Son of artists, engineer, even fireman on a ship… He didn’t decide to be artist until 1923 when he had a ‘mystic’ experience: while serving on a ship from New York to San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck and he saw a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon! He would refer to this experience throughout his life.
Then, he studied Arts in New York, at the Arts Student League but soon, he moved to Paris (the center of Arts in that time). In 1926, he created his famous Cirque Calder: tiny puppets he moved amusingly. The Cirque was an absolute success and he travel all around Europe and America making performances.
In 1931, he married Louisa James and he created his first truly kinetic sculpture and giving form to an entirely new type of art. The first of these objects moved by systems of cranks and motors were named “mobiles” by Marcel Duchamp—in French mobile refers to both “motion” and “motive.” But Calder soon abandoned the mechanical aspects of these works when he realized his mobiles would undulate on their own with the air’s currents. Jean Arp, in order to differentiate Calder’s non-kinetic works from his kinetic works, named Calder’s stationary objects “stabiles.”
In 1933, Calder and his wife left Paris and they returned to the United States, where they purchased an old farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. There, he created his first sculptures: Devil Fish or Big Bird.
Soon he received important commissions: the Mercury Fountain for the Spanish Pavilion at the Parisian World Fair (a work that symbolized Spanish Republican resistance to fascism) and Lobster Trap and Fish Tail to the Moma.
During the WWII, he worked with wood since it was difficult to get wire. These works were called “constellations” by Sweeney and Duchamp, because they suggested the cosmos, though Calder said that they represent anything in particular. Anything? To me, they represent beauty. I really like them.
This morning, Isabel del Rio has published a review about the fantastic works by Leah Lubin “Blue Moon over Blue Yareah” http://yareah.com/?p=4811 and immediately, I’ve thought of Alexander Calder: infinite, universe, cosmos, Moon… and old and a new artist looking at the limits of our world and… beyond.
The forties and fifties were a remarkably productive period for Calder. In 1945, Calder small works were exhibited at Galerie Louis Carré in Paris. This important show was held the following year and Jean-Paul Sartre wrote his famous essay on Calder’s mobiles for the exhibition catalogue.
In 1949, Calder constructed his largest mobile to date, International Mobile, for the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Third International Exhibition of Sculpture.
He was really famous a large-scale works were exhibited in Europe and America:.125, a mobile for the New York Port Authority that was hung in Idlewild (now John F. Kennedy) Airport (1957); La Spirale, for UNESCO, in Paris (1958);Teodelapio, for the city of Spoleto, Italy (1962); Man, for the Expo in Montreal (1967); El Sol Rojo (the largest of all Calder’s works) installed outside the Aztec Stadium for the Olympic Games in Mexico City; La grande vitesse, the first public art work to be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1969); and Flamingo, a stabile for the General Services Administration in Chicago (1973).
He died in 1976, I suppose thinking of new universe, moons and cosmos.
Wonderful Alexander Calder!