75 Facts About Alexander Calder


Alexander Calder was an American sculptor known both for his innovative mobiles that embrace chance in their aesthetic, his static "stabiles", and his monumental public sculptures.


Alexander "Sandy" Calder was born in 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania.


Calder's grandfather, sculptor Alexander Milne Calder, was born in Scotland, had immigrated to Philadelphia in 1868, and is best known for the colossal statue of William Penn on Philadelphia City Hall's tower.


Alexander Calder's father, Alexander Stirling Calder, was a well-known sculptor who created many public installations, a majority of them in Philadelphia.


Alexander Calder's mother was a professional portrait artist, who had studied at the Academie Julian and the Sorbonne in Paris from around 1888 until 1893.


Alexander Calder moved to Philadelphia, where she met Stirling Calder while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.


Four-year-old Alexander Calder posed nude for his father's sculpture The Man Cub, a cast of which is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


In 1905 his father contracted tuberculosis, and Alexander Calder's parents moved to a ranch in Oracle, Arizona, leaving the children in the care of family friends for a year.


Alexander Calder used scraps of copper wire to make jewelry for his sister's dolls.


On January 1,1907, Nanette Alexander Calder took her son to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, where he observed a four-horse-chariot race.


In late 1909 the family returned to Philadelphia, where Alexander Calder briefly attended Germantown Academy, then they moved to Croton-on-Hudson, New York.


In Croton, during his high school years, Alexander Calder was befriended by his father's painter friend Everett Shinn with whom he built a gravity-powered system of mechanical trains.


In each new location, Alexander Calder's parents reserved cellar space as a studio for their son.


Alexander Calder's parents did not want him to be an artist, so he decided to study mechanical engineering.


An intuitive engineer since childhood, Alexander Calder did not even know what mechanical engineering was.


Alexander Calder enrolled at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1915.


At Stevens, Alexander Calder was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and excelled in mathematics.


Alexander Calder held a variety of jobs including hydraulic engineer and draughtsman for the New York Edison Company.


In June 1922, Calder took a mechanic position on the passenger ship H F Alexander.


Alexander docked in San Francisco and Calder traveled to Aberdeen, Washington, where his sister and her husband, Kenneth Hayes resided.


Alexander Calder took a job as a timekeeper at a logging camp.


Shortly after this, Alexander Calder decided to move back to New York to pursue a career as an artist.


In New York City, Alexander Calder enrolled at the Art Students League, studying briefly with George Luks, Boardman Robinson, and John Sloan.


Alexander Calder became fascinated with the circus action, a theme that would reappear in his later work.


In 1926, Alexander Calder moved to Paris, enrolled in the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, and established a studio at 22 rue Daguerre in the Montparnasse Quarter.


In June 1929, while traveling by boat from Paris to New York, Alexander Calder met his future wife, Louisa James, a daughter of Edward Holton James and grandniece of author Henry James and philosopher William James.


In 1955 he and Louisa traveled through India for three months, where Alexander Calder produced nine sculptures as well as some jewelry.


In 1963, Alexander Calder settled into a new workshop, overlooking the valley of the Lower Chevriere to Sache in Indre-et-Loire.


Alexander Calder donated to the town a sculpture, which since 1974 has been situated in the town square.


In 1966, Alexander Calder published his Autobiography with Pictures with the help of his son-in-law, Jean Davidson.


Alexander Calder died unexpectedly in November 1976 of a heart attack, shortly after the opening of a major retrospective show at the Whitney Museum in New York.


In Paris in 1926, Alexander Calder began to create his Cirque Alexander Calder, a miniature circus fashioned from wire, cloth, string, rubber, cork, and other found objects.


Soon, his Cirque Alexander Calder became popular with the Parisian avant-garde.


Alexander Calder invented wire sculpture, or "drawing in space", and in 1929 had his first solo show of these sculptures in Paris at Galerie Billiet.


However, Alexander Calder found that the motorized works sometimes became monotonous in their prescribed movements.


Alexander Calder's solution, arrived at by 1932, was hanging sculptures that derived their motion from touch or air currents.


The earliest of these were made of wire, found objects, and wood, a material that Alexander Calder used since the 1920s.


Alexander Calder was experimenting with self-supporting, static, abstract sculptures, dubbed "stabiles" by Jean Arp in 1932 to differentiate them from mobiles.


Postwar, Alexander Calder began to cut shapes from sheet metal into evocative forms and hand-paint them in his characteristically bold hues.


Alexander Calder created a small group of works from around this period with a hanging base-plate, for example Lily of Force, Baby Flat Top, and Red is Dominant.


Alexander Calder made works such as Seven Horizontal Discs, which, like Lily of Force and Baby Flat Top, he was able to dismantle and send by mail for his upcoming show at Galerie Louis Carre in Paris, despite the stringent size restrictions imposed by the postal service at the time.


Alexander Calder's 1946 show at Carre, which was organized by Duchamp, was composed mainly of hanging and standing mobiles, and it made a huge impact, as did the essay for the catalogue by French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.


In 1951, Alexander Calder devised a new kind of sculpture, related structurally to his constellations.


In 1934, Alexander Calder made his first outdoor works in his Roxbury, Connecticut studio, using the same techniques and materials as his smaller works.


The first few outdoor works were too delicate for strong winds, which forced Alexander Calder to rethink his fabrication process.


In 1958, Alexander Calder asked Jean Prouve to construct the steel base of Spirale in France, a monumental mobile for the UNESCO site in Paris, while the top was fabricated in Connecticut.


In June 1969, Alexander Calder attended the dedication of his monumental "stabile" sculpture La Grande Vitesse in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


In 1971, Alexander Calder created his Bent Propeller which was installed at the entrance of the World Trade Center's North Tower in New York City.


The massive sheet-metal project, weighing 35 tons, spans the nine-story height of the building's atrium in Washington, DC Alexander Calder designed the maquette for the United States Senate in the last year of his life.


Alexander Calder created stage sets for more than a dozen theatrical productions, including Nuclea, Horizon, and most notably, Martha Graham's Panorama, a production of the Erik Satie symphonic drama Socrate, and later, Works in Progress.


Alexander Calder would describe some of his stage sets as dancers performing a choreography due to their rhythmic movement.


Alexander Calder picked up his study of printmaking in 1925, and continued to produce illustrations for books and journals.


Alexander Calder used prints for advocacy, as in poster prints from 1967 and 1969 protesting the Vietnam War.


In 1975 Alexander Calder was commissioned to paint a BMW 3.0 CSL automobile, which would be the first vehicle in the BMW Art Car Project.


Alexander Calder created over 2,000 pieces of jewelry over the course of his career, many as gifts for friends.


Alexander Calder rarely used solder; when he needed to join strips of metal, he linked them with loops, bound them with snippets of wire or fashioned rivets.


Alexander Calder created his first pieces in 1906 at the age of eight for his sister's dolls using copper wire that he found in the street.


Alexander Calder exhibited with the Abstraction-Creation group in Paris in 1933.


In 1943, the Museum of Modern Art hosted a Alexander Calder retrospective, curated by James Johnson Sweeney and Marcel Duchamp; the show had to be extended due to the number of visitors.


Alexander Calder was one of 250 sculptors who exhibited in the 3rd Sculpture International held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the summer of 1949.


Alexander Calder participated in documentas I, II, III.


Alexander Calder's work is in many permanent collections across the world.


Alexander Calder's 7.5-foot-long hanging mobile Poisson volant fetched $25.9 million, setting an auction record for the sculptor at Christie's New York in 2014.


However, representatives of the Alexander Calder family boycotted the January 10,1977, ceremony "to make a statement favoring amnesty for Vietnam War draft resisters".


In 1987, the Calder Foundation was established by Calder's family, "dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, preserving, and interpreting the art and archives of Alexander Calder and [is] charged with an unmatched collection of his works".


In 1993, the owners of Rio Nero, a sheet-metal and steel-wire mobile ostensibly by Calder, went to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia charging that it was not by Alexander Calder, as claimed by its seller.


In 1994, the Alexander Calder Foundation declined to include the mobile in the catalogue raisonne on the artist.


In 1973, Alexander Calder had created a 1-foot -high sheet metal maquette for an unrealized stabile he called Two White Dots.


Alexander Calder gave this maquette to Carmen Segretario, founder and owner of the Segre Foundry of Waterbury, Connecticut.


For decades, Alexander Calder had utilized the services of Segre Foundry in manufacturing his mobiles and stabiles.


Alexander Calder died in 1976, without a full-size version of Two White Dots having been made.


Alexander Calder has four children, including Gryphon Rower-Upjohn, a sound experimentalist, composer-performer, and curator in the field of audiovisual culture, who is known as Gryphon Rue.


Alexander Calder caricatured her family and friends as animals in the 2013 book The Calder Family and Other Critters: Portraits and Reflections.


The Alexander Calder family has a long-standing connection with the Putney School, a progressive co-ed boarding school in Vermont.


Alexander Calder's daughters attended the school as did several of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.