Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is considered one of the most innovative and prolific artists of the 20th century. He was born in PA, creating kinetic sculptures as young as 11 years old, evidence of his talent in handling materials. Calder received an engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1919, later finding work as a hydraulics engineer, automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship’s boiler room. In 1923, he moved to New York and studied at the Art Students’ League. He began illustrating for the National Police Gazette and sketched scenes of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In 1926, he moved to Paris and developed this interest, creating kinetic circus assemblages that he performed.

In 1928, the Weyhe Gallery in New York held Calder’s first solo gallery show. He subsequently exhibited in New York, Paris, and Berlin. In 1930, Calder befriended prominent artists and intellectuals of the early 20th century, later joining Abstraction-Création, an influential group of artists, including Jean Arp, Piet Mondrian, and Jean Hélion. His first kinetic sculpture gave form in 1931, coined “mobiles” by Marcel Duchamp. Jean Arp called his later mobiles, powered solely by air currents, “stabiles.” During this same decade, Calder experimented with scale, creating large outdoor sculptures. He turned to wood as metal was scarce during World War II, and worked primarily in large-scale towards the end of his life.

His prints retain the same sense of suspension and whimsy typical of his sculptural work. The lithographs also share Calder’s characteristic color palette, about which he writes, “I have chiefly limited myself to the use of black and white as being the most disparate colors. Red is the color most opposed to both of these, and then, finally, the other primaries. The secondary colors and intermediate shades serve only to confuse and muddle the distinctness and clarity.”

Major retrospectives of Calder’s work have been held at George Walter Vincent Smith Gallery, Springfield, MA (1939); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1943); Guggenheim Museum, New York (1964); Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, FR (1969); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1976 and 2008). His work is in the collections of most major museum collections.