An Artist With An Impressive Personality; Alexander Calder

Moving Sculptures…

As soon as i sat in front of my desk to write my article, storms broke within my mind. I gave up writing about the exhibition I decided to write and with a sudden decision I wanted to mention another artist. Totally instinctually I went through the library and picked that catalogue.

Actually, I could trace back this sudden change of decision. Last week I had a chat with a beloved friend of mine and his sculptures of paper and wire were stuck in my mind. Also last year I had the chance to see his works in“Warhol to Hirst, Modern and Contemporary Masters of World Art” exhibition at“Portakal Art and Culture House”. The exhibition really impressed me. Whom I’m talking about is, of course, American painter and sculptor, Alexander Calder who brought“motion” concept into sculpture with his Mobiles.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) grew with a painter mother and sculptor father and grandfather, in a very artistic environment. Despite his talents, Calder became an mechanical engineer and worked at several works. However he couldn’t stop his artistic aspect and decided to be a painter. In 1923 he enrolled The Art Students League of New York. Each material he worked on was like a toy for him. He created more than 22.000 works. Monuments, stabiles, paintings, drawings, jewels, furniture…

While studying art, he started to work as an illustrator for“The National Police Gazette”. The newspaper charged him with illustrations of the circus shows. He was fascinated with the circus world and this resulted in a lifetime interest.

After moving to Paris, he started creating one of his most important works,“Cirque de Calder”. The circus became a work continuing for years, composed of wires and various materials.


Circus 1926-31, Alexander Calder


Red Nose, Alexander Calder


Alexander Calder, Le Halebardier (1971), Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany


Alexander Calder (1898–1976), The Three, 1966.


L’empennage, 1953, CALDER at Scothland Modern Art Museum

Calder formed the Kinetic art movement along with Bauhaus, Russian constructivists and De Stilj movement. Kinetic art largely shows optical features. The distinctive impression of kinetic art arises from the moving audience. They can touch the work and also move it.

In 1923 while drawing sketches of the people in circus, streets and metro in New York, he was able to give the sense of motion by just a single pencil line. Inspiring from the circus he created patterns of animals, acrobats and clowns. In 1925 he started to make his wire sculpture based on the previous patterns, in 1927 he produced moving toys. In 1930 he became famous in USA and Paris with his abstract constructions, portraits and wire sculptures. Being inspired by Mondrian, he aimed to create“Moving Mondrian”. In 1931, he joined Abstraction-Creation group and in that year he made his first non-figurative construction. In 1932 Duchamp named the works of Calder which are moved by motor or hand as“mobile”. Duchamp suggested“stabile” term for the non-moving constructions of Calder in ARP. Afterwards these terms started to be used for the other sculptures. Calder was always interested in what is funny and fantastic, so he aimed to feature such stuff in his works. The last exhibition of Calder was inGagosian Gallery in London.


Calder exhibition at Gagosian Art Gallery


Mercury Fountain (1937) of Calder at Miro Museum

Moreover, two of his most interesting giant works are in Joan Miro Foundation. When Calder’s friend Miro founded the Foundation, Calder donated his“Mercury fountain” work. This work was produced in 1937 World Exhibition Paris for Spanish Pavilion. Now it decorates the garden of the foundation. And the other work,“Coreovada” is donated to the foundation by the architect Josep Lluis Sert.

I hope the colorful world of Calder comes to Istanbul as a more extensive exhibition…

Rest in peace, funny man…

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