10 Interesting Facts about Alexander Calder

One of these following facts about Alexander Calder should give you much information about his work. Alexander Calder was an American sculptor known as the originator of the mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended components which move in response to motor power or air currents. Calder’s stationary sculptures are called stabiles. He also produced numerous wire figures, notably for a miniature circus. Furthermore, to get to know more about him, here are some other facts about Alexander Calder you might be interested in.

Facts about Alexander Calder 1: Early Life

lexander Calder, known to his friends as Sandy, was born on 22 July 1898, in Philadelphia, America, to artist parents. Dad Alexander Stirling Calder created many installations in Philadelphia, while mum Nanette was a professional portrait artist. As a four-year-old he was the model for his dad’s sculpture The Man Cub, now on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Facts about Alexander Calder 2: Grandfather’s Work

His grandad Alexander Milne Calder was also a sculptor. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, he emigrated to America aged 18. His most famous work was on the architectural carvings of Philadelphia City Hall.

Facts about Alexander Calder - Alexander Calder
Facts about Alexander Calder – Alexander Calder

Facts about Alexander Calder 3: Creation

Calder’s first creations, aged 11, were a tiny dog and a duck which he gave to his parents as Christmas presents. The duck already showed his interest in movement as it could rock to and fro.

Facts about Alexander Calder 4: Other Talents

Despite his artistic talents, Calder did a degree in engineering and went on to work as hydraulic repair engineer, vehicle engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship’s boiler room. During his ship travels, Calder saw both a sunrise and a full moon on opposite sides of the boat, a sight which inspired him. He committed to becoming an artist soon afterwards, moving to New York and signing up to the Art Students League in 1923.

Facts about Alexander Calder - Calder room in National Gallery
Facts about Alexander Calder – Calder room in National Gallery

Facts about Alexander Calder 5: National Police Gazette

Calder illustrated for the National Police Gazette – a job which saw him spend two weeks at the circus. This inspired him to recreate the spectacle with his own circus models made from wire, leather, cloth and other materials. Now living in Paris, he unveiled the work with a performance for friends, before putting on shows in Paris and London. The elaborate performances, which saw Calder manipulating the figures, could last two hours.

Facts about Alexander Calder 6: First Solo Show

Calder earned his first solo show in 1928 in New York. More shows followed, both in NYC and in Paris and Berlin, leading Calder to spend much time on ships across the Atlantic. It was on one of these crossings which Calder met his wife Louisa James, a grandniece of writer Henry James, and the two married in 1931. They went on to have two daughters.

Facts about Alexander Calder - La Grande Vitesse
Facts about Alexander Calder – La Grande Vitesse

Facts about Alexander Calder 7: Friendship

Calder was friends with many prominent artists and intellectuals, including Joan Miro, Fernand Leger, James Johnson Sweeney, and Marcel Duchamp. And it was a visit to the Paris studio of Piet Mondrian, where he saw a wall of coloured paper rectangles, which sent Calder towards the abstract style represented in today’s Google doodle. And in 1931 Calder created his first mobiles.

Facts about Alexander Calder 8: Family

Calder and his wife moved back to America in 1933, settling in Roxbury, Connecticut, and he continued to exhibit his works. When war broke out in America, Calder applied for the Marine Corps but was rejected. The war had an affect on his work: metal was being used for the war effort, so he instead relied more on wood.

Facts about Alexander Calder - Man
Facts about Alexander Calder – Manv

Facts about Alexander Calder 9: Static Sculpture

During his career, Calder also produced static sculptures – dubbed “stabiles” to differentiate them from his mobiles. A sculpture called WTC Stabile, also known as Bent Propeller, stood in front of 7 World Trade Center and was destroyed during the 9/11 terror attacks. His largest work, the 67ft high El Sol Rojo, was displayed outside the Aztec stadium for the 1968 Mexico Olympics. He also continued to produce paintings, including two giant planes and painting a BMW.

Facts about Alexander Calder 10: Death

Calder died on 11 November 1976 at the age of 78, having achieved worldwide renown.

Facts about Alexander Calder - Printed BMW CSL 3.0
Facts about Alexander Calder – Printed BMW CSL 3.0

Hope you would find those Alexander Calder facts really interesting, useful and helpful for your additional reading.

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