Alexander Calder was born in 1898 to a family of artists in Lawntown, Pennsylvania. Despite his father being a sculptor and his mother a painter, he was encouraged to study mechanical engineering and went on to hold several jobs in the field whilst living in New York. In 1926, Calder moved to Paris where he established a studio at 22 rue Daguerre in Montparnasse. Soon after, he drew the attention of the avant-garde milieu with his Cirque Calder, befriending Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miró, Jean Arp and Fernand Léger. Calder created his first kinetic sculptures in 1931, the earliest of these dubbed ‘mobiles’ by Duchamp for their mechanical motorisation. Calder quickly abandoned the mechanical aspects, however, developing suspended sculptures that would move with the air’s currents, which were dubbed ‘stabiles’ by Arp as a means of differentiation.
In 1933, Calder returned to the United States with his wife Louisa, moving into a farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. There, Calder began to explore the possibilities of outdoor sculptures as well as monumental works, and was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1943. In 1953, the year after Calder won the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale, he moved back to France with Louisa, and was predominantly occupied with the large-scale commissions that define the latter end of his career, including Spirale (1958) for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Calder’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Broad, Los Angeles; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Collection, London.
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