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"Alexander Calder"
Alexander Calder
Tamara Moore
Alexander Stirling "Sandy" Calder was one of the most innovative and original American artists of the twentieth century. Calder was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother, Nanette Lederer, was a painter and his father, Alexander "Stirling" Calder, and grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, were noted sculptors. Young Alexander seemed to break the family tradition of studying art by enrolling at the Stephens Institute of Technology in New Jersey to major in engineering. But after graduating from college and holding a succession of jobs, Calder eventually returned to New York to study art (Nelson 2001).

Calder attended classed at the Art Students League in New York from 1923 to 1926, supporting himself by working as an illustrator. Between 1926 and 1930, Calder went to Paris to develop his intricately assembled Cirque Calder, a work of performance art employing small-scale circus figures he sculpted from wire, wood, clothe, and other materials. Calder's circus helped to establish him in avant-garde circles. At the same time, Calder sculpted three-dimensional figurative works using continuous lengths of wire, which he described as "line drawings in space"(Marter 1991). His wire sculptures became another outlet for the artist's explorations in space. One of his earliest wire sculptures was a portrait of Josephine Baker, the first of five he ultimately made of the dance (Marter 1991). Many of these wire sculptures, such as his initial portrait of Baker, were affixed to bases. A number of later wire portraits, such as Aztec Josephine Baker, were made to hang from string or wire, so that their elements could dangle and move at the mercy of the wind. Indeed, such works would seem to be conceptual prototypes of Calder's later mobiles.

In the early 1930's, Calder's work took a radical turn. Association with Mondrain and other innovative artists working at the time influenced Calder to...

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