Calder, Alexander (kôlˈdər) [key], 1898–1976, American sculptor, b. Philadelphia; son of a prominent sculptor, Alexander Stirling Calder. Among the most innovative modern sculptors, Calder was trained as a mechanical engineer. In 1930 he went to Paris and was influenced by the art of Mondrian and Miró. In 1932 he exhibited his first brightly colored constellations, called mobiles, consisting of painted cut-out shapes connected by wires and set in motion by wind currents. The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, has several examples. These buoyant inventions and his witty wire portraits, his colorful and complex miniature zoo (1925; Whitney Mus., New York City), and his immobile sculptures known as stabiles, have brought Calder world renown. Many of his later works are huge, heavy, and delicately balanced mobiles produced for public buildings throughout the world. Calder is also noted for his book illustrations and stage sets. He had studios in Roxbury, Conn., and Paris.
See his autobiography (1966) and Mobiles and Stabiles (1968); biography by J. M. Marter (1991); J. Lipman, ed., Calder's Circus (1972); studies by J. J. Sweeney (1951), M. Gibson (1988), D. Marchesseau (1989), G.-G. Lemaire (1998), M. Prather et al. (1998), S. C. Rower (1998), and J. Simon and B. Leal, ed. (2008).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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