“Just as one can compose colors, or forms, so one can compose motions.”
In 1922 off the coast of New York and San Francisco Alexander Calder experienced a simultaneous sun rise and moon set. About the experience he has said “whilst sailing between
It was a pivotal moment in the 24 year olds life, perhaps his personal Road to Damascus, for he finally abandoned his career as a mechanical engineer to follow in the footsteps of his parents. His mother was a professional portrait painter and his father was a sculptor like his father before him.
The following year Calder began classes at New York’s Art Student League. He supported himself as an illustrator for the National Police Gazette during this time. One of his assignments for the Gazette was to produce illustrations of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
In 1926 Calder traveled to Paris and enrolled at Académie de la Grande Chaumière. He also started his ongoing sculptural performance work
Mondrian's studio had a lasting impression. About this visit Calder said “.”
A year later he exhibits his first “Mobile”, a name suggested by Marcel Duchamp upon his visit to Calder’s studio to see these mechanized abstract sculptures. Over the ensuing years Calder’s kinetic sculptures have become the signature works for which he is best known.
A selection of these works along with his “stabiles”, Calder’s often monumental simple forms executed in sheet metal, can currently be seen at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum. Organized by the Los Angeles Community Museum of Art, Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic is on show at the Peabody until the 4th of January.