Alexander Calder

Beloosesky Gallery is interested in purchasing artwork and jewelry by Alexander Calder.

Please call (917) 749-4577 or email us at info@beloosesky.com

 

One of America's best known sculptors, "Sandy" Calder became most famous for his kinetic abstract mobiles.  He also did floor pieces, was a painter in watercolor, oil and gouache, did etchings and serigraphs, and made jewelry and tapestries as well designed theater stage settings and architectural interiors. 

His art reflects his reputation of being a beloved, decent human being who continually searched for fun and humor in that around him. He was highly independent from luxuries and focused on creativity.  His last words, "I'll do it myself", tell the story of his life.

He was born in Philadelphia, the son of Alexander Sterling Calder and the grandson of Alexander Milne Calder, well-known sculptors of public monumental works.  His mother, Nanette Lederer Calder, was a professional portrait painter. Obviously he was nurtured in an environment of art, and from an early age, he was making figures from found objects.  Because of the father's ill health and the necessity for a drier climate, the family moved to Oracle, Arizona in 1905, and five years later to Pasadena, California.  When Sandy was a teenager, the family returned to Pennsylvania.

He was unable to make a decision about a vocation, but his fascination with machines led to his earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1919.  He tried a variety of jobs including working in the boiler room of a cruise ship.  In 1923, he enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City, where his teachers were John Sloan, Guy Pene Du Bois, and Boardman Robinson.  In classes there he did numerous oil paintings and also humorous drawings of sporting events for the National Police Gazette. 

In 1925, he produced an illustrated book titled Animal Sketching, one-line drawings that foreshadowed his early wire sculptures of figures and animals.  In 1926, encouraged by an engineer friend of his father to follow his talent, he went to Paris where he lived the next seven years and shortly after his arrival began doing wire sculpture. During this period, his mother gave him seventy-five dollars a month for living expenses.

He assembled a "Circus," of miniature, hand activated one-wire figures with which he gave performances in his studio.  These pieces were made by bending and twisting a single wire into humorous portraits, animals, and figure groups. 

He also met many of the leading avant-garde artists of the day including Piet Mondrian, who influenced Calder's geometric, non-objective constructions that he began producing in 1931.  His floor pieces, named "stabiles" by Jean Arp, were exhibited in a gallery exhibition organized by Marcel Duchamp, who coined the word "mobile" for the hanging, kinetic pieces.  Soon, Calder was creating many of these wind-driven works.

Calder's mobiles were first shown in the United States in 1932, and the next year he returned to America and purchased a home in Roxbury, Connecticut where he lived the remainder of his life and gained much attention from that time.

Dancer Martha Graham used several of his sculptures in her modern dance performances, and personnel at the Museum of Modern Art in New York began purchasing pieces from him including his first large-scale piece called Whale in 1937.

During World War II when metal was scarce, he made mobiles and stabiles from carved, painted wood, and in the early 1950s he added to his repertoire wall pieces and mobiles that incorporated sound.  Many federal agencies and businesses commissioned works by him, and most major American museums have his pieces in their collections.

His death in 1976 occurred coincidentally with a major retrospective of his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

 

Source:
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

 

Biography from the Archives of AskART.

 

 

TIMELINE

1898          Born in Philadelphia, PA
1909          Parents provide him with a workshop at age eleven
1919          Graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ
                  Worked as engineer at logging camp in Washington state
1923          Moved to New York, NY and attended Art Students League
                  Worked as illustrator for newspapers and advertisers
1925          Employed at Central Park Zoo and Bronx Zoo, New York, NY
1926          Attended Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, France
1931          Settled in Paris, France
1933          Moved back to the U.S. and buys house in Roxbury, CT
1939          Commissioned to make mobile installed in main stairwell of Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1949          Constructed largest mobile to date, hung over main stairwell of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
1952          Awarded grand prize for sculpture, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
1957–1958 Received several commissions for large-scale public sculpture, including a mobile for JFK Airport commissioned 
1967–1968 Sculpture commissions for Expo ’67 in Montreal and 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City
1976          Died in New York, NY

 

EXHIBITIONS

2013
Artistic Relationships: Partners, Mentors, Lovers - Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC 
Dynamo Un Siecle De Lumiere Et De Mouvement Dans L’art 1913-2013 - Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris 
Puppet Show - Eastside Projects, Birmingham (England) 
In the Library - The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 
fun house - Richard Gray Gallery - New York, New York City, NY

 

2012
The Complete Bronzes - L&M Arts, New York, New York City, NY 
Calder Noir - Kukje Gallery, Seoul 
Alexander Calder - Crane Kalman Gallery, London (England) 
Alexander Calder - Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague 
Building the Collection: Art Acquired in the 1990s - Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR

 

2011
Alexander Calder: The Painter - Helly Nahmad Gallery, London (England) 
Alexander Calder: 1941 - The Pace Gallery - 32 East 57th Street, New York City, NY 
Alexander Calder: Gouaches - Pace Prints, New York City, NY 
Calder - Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV 
Calder's Portraits: A New Language - The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

 

2010
Alexander Calder - Galería Elvira González, Madrid 
Calder Jewelry - GRAM - Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, MI 
Retrospective - Zadok Art Gallery, Miami, FL 
Alexander Calder - Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York City, NY

 

2009
Alexander Calder: Printmaker - Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT 
Alexander Calder - Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome 
Alexander Calder - Monumental Sculpture - Gagosian Gallery, Rome 
Alexander Calder - Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA 
Alexander Calder: 1969 The Fortieth Anniversary of La Grande vitesse - Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI

 

2008
Alexander Calder: Gouaches, Ricco Maresca Gallery, New York City, NY (solo)
Alexander Calder Jewlery, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL (solo)

 

2007
Focus: Alexander Calder, MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY (solo)

 

2006
The Surreal Calder, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art , San Francisco, CA; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN (solo)
Calder in Brazil, Paco Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (solo)
I Think Best in Wire: Alexander Calder, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)
Calder Gouaches: 1942-1976, PaceWildenstein, New York, NY (solo)
Calder: From Model to Monument, PaceWildenstein, New York, NY (solo)

 

2005
Alexander Calder: Two Monumental Sculptures, Gagosian Gallery, New York., NY (solo)
Alexander Calder, Samuel Vanhoegaerden Gallery, Knokke-Heist, Belgium (solo)

 

2004
Alexander Calder, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, South Korea (solo)
Calder: Gravedad y la Gracia, Museo Nacional - Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (solo)

 

2003
Calder: Gravedad y la Gracia, Fundacion del Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (solo)
Alexander Calder, Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA (solo)

 

2002
Calder '76: The Cutouts, PaceWildenstein, New York, NY (solo)
Alexander Calder: Motion and Color, Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan (solo)
Calder: Four Maquettes, Two Stabiles and a Little Bird Too, Ameringer Fine Arts, New York, NY (solo)

 

2001
Alexander Calder: Motion and Color, Museum of Modern Art, Toyama, Japan (solo)
Alexander Calder in Focus, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (solo)

 

2000
Earthly Forms: The Biomorphic Sculpture of Arp, Calder and Noguchi, PaceWildenstein, New York, NY

 

1999
An Adventurous Spirit: Calder at The Phillips Collection, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C (solo)
Alexander Calder, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)

 

1998
Alexander Calder: 1898-1976, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and SF MoMA (solo)
Flying Colors: The Innovation and Artistry of Alexander Calder, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose , CA (solo)

 

1996
Alexander Calder: 1898-1976, Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (solo)
Celebrating Calder, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD (solo)

 

1994
Calder, Bibliotheque Municipale and Abbaye Saint-Germain, Auxerre, France (solo)
Calder Gallery Installation, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (solo)

 

1993
Alexander Calder from the Collection of the Ruth and Leonard J. Horwich Family, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (solo)

 

1992
Celebrating Calder, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)
Alexander Calder, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (solo)

 

1989
The Intimate World of Alexander Calder, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, New York, NY; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN (solo)

 

1987
Alexander Calder: Sculptures of the Nineteen Thirties, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)

 

1984
Calder, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela (solo)
Des Stabiles et des Mobiles de Calder, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (solo)

 

1982
Tapices de Alexander Calder, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)

 

1981
Alexander Calder: A Concentration of Works from the Permanent Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)

 

1978
Images de Calder, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (solo)
Calder's Universe, San Jose Museum of Art, CA; Portland Art Museum, OR; Phoenix Art Museum, AZ (solo)

 

1977
Alexander Calder Memorial, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY (solo)
Calder's Universe, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; High Art Musuem, Atlanta, GA (solo)

 

1976
Calder, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA (solo)
Retrospective, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (solo)

 

1963
Calder gouache show, Perls Gallery, New York (solo)
Retrospective, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (solo)

 

1962
Retrospective, Tate Gallery, London, UK

 

1950
Galerie Maeght, Paris, France (solo)
Retrospective, Masachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (solo)

 

1943
Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA (solo)

 

1932
Julien Levy Gallery, New York, NY (solo)

 

1929
Galerie Billiet, Paris, France (solo)

 

1928
Weyhe Gallery, New York, NY (solo)

 

1926
Artist's Gallery, New York, NY

 

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York , NY
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid, Spain
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
Dallas Museum of Art, TX
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

Centre Pompidou, Paris, France