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HOME > the artworks > alexander calder
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Sample Artworks from our inventory (Click to Enlarge)

Sky Swirl, 1974
Colour lithograph
  Unititled: 'San Lazzaro et ses amis', 1975
Colour lithograph
  Zebra (Yellow and Black), 1975
Colour Lithograph on Arches

Calder, Alexander (1898-1976), American sculptor of great vitality and versatility, best known for his creation of mobile sculpture, and generally regarded as one of the 20th century's most innovative and witty artists.

Calder, the son and grandson of distinguished American sculptors, was born July 22, 1898, in Philadelphia. He graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1919 with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1923 Calder enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City; in the fall of 1926 he moved to Paris. His sculptures in wire—satirical portraits as well as delightful miniature circus figures (1927-32, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City)—brought him worldwide recognition. He returned to the U.S. in 1933; in later years he divided his time between the U.S. and France, with numerous highly successful exhibitions in Paris and New York City.

In the early 1930s Calder experimented with abstraction, first as a painter and later as a sculptor. He was influenced by his meetings with such European abstract artists as Joan Miró, Jean Arp, and Piet Mondrian. He also began to experiment with motion, a process that led to his development of the two modes of sculpture for which he is famous, the mobile and the stabile.

Calder's mobiles (so named by the French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp) are suspended, elegantly balanced arrangements of abstract, organic forms. The stabiles (so named by Arp) are stationary abstract forms that frequently convey a humorous suggestion of animal shapes. Although Calder's stone, wood, and bronze sculptures; his drawings; and his later paintings (almost exclusively gouaches) are important, his reputation rests primarily upon his mobiles and stabiles. These works, increasingly monumental, achieved an enthusiastic popular acceptance seldom enjoyed by abstract art; this led to numerous important commissions following World War II. Giant stabiles and mobiles by Calder grace dozens of public buildings and plazas in Brussels, Chicago, Mexico City, Montréal, New York City, and many other cities. They culminate in his last work, the huge red-and-black mobile (1976) suspended in the multistory central court of the National Gallery of Art's East Wing (completed 1978) in Washington, D.C. Calder died November 11, 1976, in New York City, just after supervising the installation of his largest retrospective exhibition, at the Whitney Museum of American Art.