Alexander “Sandy” Calder is an American sculptor and painter born July 22, 1898 in Lawnton near Philadelphia and died November 11, 1976 in New York. He is best known for his mobiles, thus named on the proposal of Marcel Duchamp (recalling the two meanings of the term: movement and mobile) during their exhibition in Paris in 1932 at the Vignon gallery and for his assemblages of forms animated by the movements of the which are also mobiles, and its stabiles. One of his first major achievements was a reduced model of animated circus: Le Grand cirque Calder 1927.
Alexander “Sandy” Calder is the son of a rich family of artists, with father Alexander Stirling Calder, sculptor, as grandfather Alexander Milne Calder, also sculptor and mother painter Nanette Lederer Calder. He was an engineer by training and in 1919 graduated as a mechanical engineer from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
But Sandy Calder prefers the art that he has already practiced as an amateur and as early as 1906, he made dolls for his sister and at Christmas 1909, he offered two sculptures to his parents. he abandoned the engineering profession and perfected his art at the Art Students League in New York where he entered it in 1923 and produced works in the style of Ashcan Aesthetic art in the early 1930s which represented aspects ordinary city life with a particular vitality in opposition to the aesthetics of the 19th century, which emphasized refined painting techniques.
Subsequently, he illustrates sporting events as well as the reports of the Ringling Bros. tours. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the New York National Police Gazette. He also made numerous sketches of animals published a year after his departure for France, in 1926, under the title Animal Sketchings.
In 1926, he arrived in Paris, and created articulated toys which he presented in “Salon des Humoristes de 1927”. In the following years and until 1929, the passionate circus artist devoted himself to Cirque de Calder, a group of 200 characters in twisted wire and ragged ends. The characters often represent famous characters of the time. In this show, the artist plays the role of master of ceremonies, track manager and puppeteer by manually operating the mechanism, all accompanied by music and sound effects. Calder toured with his “circus” in Paris, then in Berlin, and in New York.
In Paris he came into contact with representatives of the Parisian artistic avant-garde such as Joan Miró, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Robert Desnos, Fernand Léger, Le Corbusier, Theo van Doesburg, and especially Piet Mondrian, who will have a great influence artistic on him.
From 1930, Calder adopted a more abstract style, and in 1932, he exhibited for the first time his first abstract sculptures, in rods and articulated plates, the Mobiles, made of aluminum and painted in black and white, and sometimes enhanced with ‘one or two solid colors. These thirty sculptures articulated in wire and pieces of iron are presented at the Galerie Vignon. Fifteen of them are set in motion by small motors that the artist drives.
In 1943, the Museum of Modern Art in New York organized a first retrospective, followed in 1946 by an exhibition in Paris prefaced by Jean-Paul Sartre.
In 1952, he won the grand prize at the Venice Biennale. Alexander Calder has also made numerous pieces of jewelry during his long career. In 1969, he also produced plate decorations in collaboration with the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres.
Alexander Calder died in 1976 of a heart attack in New York, the day of the opening of a retrospective of his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art.