The Day by Day History of the
Alexander Calder Was Born
July 22, 1899
What did painter and
sculptor Alexander Calder mean when he said "I think best in
wire?" Born on July 22, 1898, in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, Calder
revolutionized sculpture with his unique wire structures and
mobiles--objects hanging from wires in midair. Before Calder, no
one had created this type of art. The child of a well-known
painter and sculptor, he started his career as a mechanical
engineer and worked in that field for several years. In 1923, he
began taking drawing lessons and eventually became a commercial
artist covering prize fights and the circus for the National
Police Gazette. In 1926 he moved to Paris, and in the winter of
1931-32, Calder made his first mobile.
Alexander Calder made mobiles that were motor-driven and some
that moved with a breeze. These were called kinetic (moving)
sculptures. Looking at Calder's art, you see he created objects
in biomorphic or abstract shapes that remind you of natural
things such as animals, plants, or parts of people.
Calder's work is very colorful, and even in his paintings, he
tried to create the illusion of the canvas moving. Calder's art
appeals to the imagination. What do you see when you look at
these works of art?
You can probably see Calder's work at your
local modern art museum. In the meantime, try creating your own
wire sculpture or mobile.