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Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)


Birth Place: Philadelphia (Philadelphia county, Pennsylvania, United States)

Alexander Calder pushed the boundaries of artistic and sculptural forms by incorporating his interest in movement and mechanics into ground breaking forms of art. As the son of Alexander Sterling Calder and grandson of Alexander Milne Calder, Calder was introduced to art at an early age, though he did not set his sights of becoming a professional artist until later in his life. Because of Calder’s interest in machinery and movement, he attended the Stevens Institute of Technology and received a degree in mechanical engineering in 1919, the influences of which can be seen in the construction of his work throughout his life. After a brief stint working odd jobs, he officially decided to pursue a career in art, and enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City in 1923. He then moved to Paris in 1926 where he befriended modern artists such as Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, and Piet Mondrian. Of these artists, Mondrian was the most influential on Calder’s works; the geometric shapes incorporated into Mondrian’s later work inspired the forms Calder used throughout his career. In 1931, Calder began making his “stabiles” (the coined name for his non-moving sculpture) and “mobiles” (his movable, kinetic pieces), which were featured in an exhibition organized by Duchamp, and then introduced in the US in 1932, where they were well-received and praised. From here, Calder’s career only continued to grow as he began to create monumental public sculpture, continued making his mobiles and stabiles out of experimental materials, and ventured into lithography. His work is now held in the collections of major museums throughout the US.

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