Skip to Content

ALEXANDER CALDERAmerican 1898 - 1976

The artist
Collection of Julio de Diego, New York
Kiriki de Diego by descent from above, 1979
Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, 2014
Ambassador and Mrs. Stuart Bernstein, Washington, D.C., 2016 to present

ALEXANDER CALDERAmerican 1898 - 1976

One of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century, Calder produced works that are both ground-breaking and light-hearted, imbuing his paintings and sculptures with humour and playfulness. His earliest sculptures were motor-driven – influenced by the Constructivists, they read as self-contained miniature universes. It was only after coming into contact with Surrealism that Calder took an interest in organic movement, borrowing shapes and motions from the natural world, from planetary trajectories to dancing foliage. He cited Miró as an important influence and indeed his paintings and mobiles exhibit the same buoyancy, wit and whimsy, conveying a sense of movement through serpentine, unbroken lines.

His paintings were parallel to his innovative sculptures, which Marcel Duchamp first described as “mobiles”. Composed of bent and twisted wires that “draw” three-dimensional figures in space, Calder’s mobiles embody the constant motion of life, enacting our own experience of movement, temporality and chance. His gouaches capture the kineticism of his mobiles, translating their suspended geometric shapes into organic forms, such as suns or stars.

By the 1950s Calder achieved international significance for his radical redefinition of sculpture, allowing him to expand his studios in the United States and France and create works on a monumental scale. His work can be found in numerous international public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Calder's public commissions are on view in cities throughout the world, and his work has been the subject of hundreds of shows and retrospectives, including 'Alexander Calder: 1898–1976' at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (1998); 'Calder: Gravity and Grace' at the Guggenheim Bilbao (2003); Calder at Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul (2013); and 'Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic' at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014).