Alexander Calder: Artist Portrait

Alexander Calder

Born 1898. Died 1976.

Works by Alexander Calder at Sotheby's

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Alexander Calder Biography

Born in 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, Alexander Calder is considered one of the pioneers of Kinetic art, a movement referencing art created between approximately 1920 and 1970 that utilizes both real and apparent motion. Although his parents were both artists, Calder initially studied mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. After graduating in 1922, Calder went on to study painting at the Art Students League of New York. In 1926, he moved to Paris where he began undertaking his first formal wire sculptures, which were effectively prototypes for his later hanging works.

A visit in 1930 to the studio of Piet Mondrian proved particularly influential, effectively marking Calder’s shift from figuration to abstraction; in a letter he wrote to Marcel Duchamp, Calder described a desire to make “moving Mondrians.” In the subsequent years, he began to create abstract, moving constructions that Duchamp would name “mobiles,” a term that would lead artist Jean (Hans) Arp to label Calder’s static works “stabiles.” Experimenting with purely abstract forms and bright, contrasting colors, Calder developed a signature vocabulary that has become recognizable as his own. After winning first prize for sculpture in the 1952 Venice Biennale, Calder received numerous major public commissions in both the US and abroad until his death in 1976. Today, Calder’s work may be found in the permanent collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which has the largest Calder collection.

Undoubtedly due to its iconic nature and overall desirability, according to Sotheby’s Mei Moses the average compound annual return for Alexander Calder is 12.8%, with 93.4% of works increasing in value.

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Artist Image: © The Estate of Alexander Calder / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2018
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