Alexander Calder (1898–1976)

Alexander Calder was born in Philadelphia in 1898. From 1915-19 he attended the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was not until 1922 that he took drawing courses at a night school and decided to become an artist. He studied at the Art Students League in New York until 1926. In parallel, he made illustrations for the National Police Gazette, who in 1925 commissioned him to sketch circus scenes at Ringling Brothers Circus. After moving to Paris in 1926, the artist created his Cirque Calder, whose movable animals and figures of wood and wire became an attraction for the Parisian avant-garde. In 1928, he received his first one-man show, at Weyhe Gallery, New York. In 1931, he married Louisa James, whom he had met on one of his ocean crossings. In the autumn of that year emerged the first kinetic sculpture, a crucial turning point in Calder's career. His earliest kinetic sculptures were still set in motion by cranks or motors. The year 1933 saw the first sculptures moved by the wind, which at Duchamp's suggestion Calder called "mobiles". That same year he and his wife returned to America, where they settled in an old farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. Their first daughter, Sandra, was born in 1935, followed by Mary in 1939. This period witnessed the artist's first essays into outdoor sculpture, filigree predecessors of the later monumental outdoor sculptures to which he would devote himself particularly in his later phase. In 1943, he received his first retrospective, at the Museum of Modern Art. Beginning in 1959, further retrospectives were held at important museums in Amsterdam, London, New York, Berlin, Munich and Chicago. Calder died in New York in 1976. In 1987, the artist's family established the Calder Foundation. 


Calder Foundation

The Calder Foundation was incorporated by Alexander Calder's family as a private operating foundation in 1987. The Foundation runs its own programs, collaborates on exhibitions and publications, and gives advice on matters such as the history, assembly, and restoration of works
by Calder. The president of the Calder Foundation is Alexander S.C. Rower, Calder's grandson.

Alexander Calder
Alexander Calder with Eucalyptus (1940), 1940, Calder Foundation, New York, Photo credit: © Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, NY, Photo: © André Kertész, RMN
Mary Calder with Alexander Calder, France, ca. 1958 Calder Foundation, New York, Photo: Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, NY