The Man Behind Hanging Mobiles: Alexander Calder

It is Mr. Alexander Calder’s birthday. (:

Agnès Varda | Calder with 21 feuilles blanches (1953), Paris, 1954 © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London

“Sandy” has become famous for inventing ze MOBILE. Yes, he is the man behind the hanging trinkets that made us fall asleep when we were still tiny cutey patootsie babies.

He was also a sculptor and a painter. Artistic talents actually run in their blood. His dad was a known sculptor, whose works were mostly public installations located in Philadelphia. Her mom on the other hand was a professional portrait painter. What a picture-perfect family! Top that with his grandfather who was also a well-known sculptor, best-known for his colossal statue of William Penn on top of Philadelphia’s City Hall tower.


Vertical Foliage, 1941


The Y, 1960

As a child, Sandy was already able to “model” for one of his dad’s sculptures NUDE! His childhood “legacy” is now displayed and preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He was just around 4 years old that time! And apart from posing nude at 4 years old, that was the year that Sandy made her very first sculpture of a clay elephant. ( :

sandy's clay elephant

Sandy’s clay elephant


Lone Yellow, 1961

Twenty Leave And An Apple, 1946

Twenty Leave And An Apple, 1946

Calder’s penchant for both wire sculpture and kinetic art, has begun with his mini-circus created from from wire, string, rubber, cloth, and other found objects- which he called the  Cirque Calder. He was able to fit his miniature circus in a suitcase, until it grew to fill in FIVE,  which allowed him to showcase it almost worldwide and soon caught the attention of Parisian avant-garde.  Some of the characters in the Cirque Calder were designed to perform while suspended from a thread. This led to Duchamp’s dub for Calder’s pieces as “mobiles” – a pun which means “mobile” and “motive.” Smart! (:

Cirque Calder, 1926-1931

Cirque Calder, 1926-1931

The real “mobiles” of Calder were born by the end of 1931, when he delved into more intricately and delicately devised sculptures which were designed to move through the air currents. While mastering his abstract-kinetic art with more hanging mobiles, Calder also began experimenting with sculpture of the directly opposite nature – static sculptures which he sensibly coined as “stabiles.” This innovation of his famous style was created to be the exact differentiation of the “mobiles.” HA! (:

Sources: wikipedia, centrepompidou


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