Alexander Calder

Alexander CalderAlexander Calder is a well known American sculptor and artist who was credited to inventing the mobile or the kinetic sculpture. It is a sculpture that takes advantage of the principle of equilibrium to achieve balance. A mobile usually consists of a number of rods from which weighted objects or other rods hang.

The different objects hanging from the rods balance each other making them remain more or less horizontal. The display of rods and objects usually hang from only one string giving them freedom to rotate about.

Alexander Calder was born on July 22, 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania. He came from a family of artists with his father, Alexander Stirling Calder, already a well-known sculptor of many public installations in Philadelphia. Calder’s mother, Nanette Lederer Calder, was a professional portrait painter who has studied in Paris. Calder also had an older sister, Margaret "Peggy" Calder, who was born in 1896.

Calder made his first sculpture at the age of four. This and other early works showed the talent of this budding sculptor at a very young age. Calder’s parents encouraged their children’s creativity in art but somehow discouraged them to lead a career as artists due to the difficulties and uncertainties that usually come with having such a profession.

And because of this, Calder decided to study mechanical engineering after graduating from high school in1915 at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He received his degree in the school in 1919. Thereafter, Calder went on to work on a variety of engineering jobs and even worked on a passenger ship as a fireman in the boiler room. Eventually, Calder decided to pursue a career as an artist.

Calder then moved to New York to study art at the Art Students’ League. In 1926, he relocated to Paris where he took the job creating toys. During his stay in Paris, Calder started making out his Cirque Calder which is a miniature circus fashioned out of wire, string, wood, cloth and other discarded objects, small enough to fit into suitcases. His miniature circus became popular with the avant-garde crowd in Paris.

Calder returned to the US in 1927 where he designed several kinetic wooden toys for children. In 1928, he had his first solo exhibit at the Weyhe Gallery in New York. During this time, Calder was already fascinated by wire sculptures and kinetic art.

It was in 1931 that Calder made his popular mobiles. He also went to create self-supporting, static abstract sculptures that he called as "stabiles" to distinguish them from his mobiles. He went on to do several other artworks using other media. Calder died on November 11, 1976.

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