Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder

(American, 1898 - 1976)

The next step in sculpture is motion, said Alexander Calder, who was one of the preeminent sculptors of the 20th century. He was well-known for his static self-supporting abstract “stabile” sculptures. A fourth-generation artist and son of Alexander Sterling Calder, he is credited with introducing movement into three-dimensional works, initially through performances of his hand-activated single wire “Circus” figures (“Cirque Calder”) with motorized works. His iconic stabiles—painted sheet metal and wire mobiles activated by air currents—were first shown in America in 1932.

Though Calder is perhaps best known for his stabiles, he also created paintings, gouaches, theater sets, jewelry designs, rugs, and tapestries. As a young man, Calder earned a degree in mechanical engineering and published a drawing manual entitled Animal Sketching before establishing himself in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, during which time he was dubbed the “King of Wire” for his three-dimensional animal creations. The forms in Calder’s work include organic shapes derived from the natural world, as well as geometric forms, including discs and spheres, many painted in his famous “Calder red,” yellow, and blue. Calder was never fully aligned with any one particular art movement, but achieved immense popularity—which, at times, subjected him to critical rebuke. He left behind a prodigious output upon his passing in 1976, just weeks after the opening of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Auction Results

In the past ten years, Freeman’s has had the privilege to offer three remarkable Calder stabiles: Bushy-tailed Red, sold for $327,750 in ; The Red Bull, sold for $530,500 in 2012; and Azul, amarillo, blanco, sobre rojo, sold for $241,000 in . In addition, Freeman’s has presented a number of gouache on paper works that have achieved well above their estimates. In particular, Spinnaker, from the Estate of H. Gates Lloyd, sold for $181, 250 in , while Descending Discs, sold in for $110,500. Freeman’s has seen consistent interest and lively bidding for this blue-chip artist in recent years.

Upcoming Auctions

The Personal Collection of Vladimir Kagan

The Personal Collection of Vladimir Kagan

January 25, 2023 11:00 EST

Alexander Calder FAQs

Alexander Calder is known for his three-dimensional mobiles and stabiles.

Stabile, a term coined by Jean Arp, refers to the style of three-dimensional stationary abstract constructions first developed by Alexander Calder.

Mobile, a term coined by Marcel Duchamp, refers the style of three-dimensional kinetic hanging constructions first developed by Alexander Calder.

Alexander Calder was born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania.

Alexander Calder was born on August 22, 1889. He died in November of 1976 at the age of 86.

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