Alexander Calder departed for Paris in 1926, having earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, and having spent some time studying at New York's Art Students League. A 1930 visit to the studio of the painter Piet Mondrian sparked Calder's interest in strong color and abstraction. At about the same time, he met the Surrealists Joan Miro and Hans Arp, whose organic imagery and interest in compositions determined by the laws of chance fascinated him. His motorized and hand-cranked sculptures of the next forty years drew from these sources and were developed in increasingly sophisticated depth and size. Sculptures such as "Route Barrée" move in response to natural air currents and thus depend on random action. After 1950, his mobiles, as well as his stationary sculptures (named "stabiles" by Arp), became larger and more monumental. Many have been commissioned for outdoor installations worldwide. In addition to sculpture, Calder fashioned jewelry, illustrated books, stage sets, and even some industrial and household goods during his long career as one of the most well-known and innovative sculptors of the twentieth century.
Date of Birth
Steel wire and sheet metal, painted red, white, and black
28 x 130 x 51 in. (71.12 x 330.2 x 129.54 cm.)
Henry D. Gilpin Fund
© Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York