Alexander Calder (1898-1977)
Equestrians (Circus Riders)
Pen and ink on off-white wove paper
14 x 19 1/8 in. (35.56 x 48.5775 cm.)
Gift of Carl Zigrosser, in memeory of Leo Asbell
Alexander ("Sandy") Calder was a native Philadelphian, the son and grandson of famous sculptors associated with the city. Calder was also one of the first American sculptors to gain recognition in Europe, where he spent much of his time after 1926. His signature sculptural invention was dubbed the "mobile" by the artist Marcel Duchamp. It became one of the most famous icons in twentieth-century art. While studying at the Art Students League in New York in the mid-1920s he discovered the circus world and thus began his lifelong fascination with that milieu. In 1926 in Paris, he created a complex, movable, miniature "Circus" in wire, and in the early 1930s produced more than one hundred drawings of circus subjects. "Equestrians" is typical of the works in this whimsical series, exhibiting Calder's brilliant continuity of line and his subtle economy of means. The first of three Calder works to enter the Academy collection, it would be followed by "Route Barrée" in 1962, and his six "Bicentennial Tapestries" in 1976.