Alexander Calder (; August 22, 1898 – November 11, 1976) was an American sculptor known as the originator of the mobile, a type of moving sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended shapes that move in response to touch or air currents. Calder’s monumental stationary sculptures are called stabiles. He also produced wire figures, which are like drawings made in space, and notably a miniature circus work that was performed by the artist.
Alexander "Sandy" Calder was born in 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania.〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://www.calder.org/life/chronology )〕 His actual birthday, however, remains a source of much confusion. According to Calder's mother, Nanette (née Lederer), Calder was born on August 22, yet his birth certificate at Philadelphia City Hall, based on a hand-written ledger, stated July 22. When Calder's family learned about the birth certificate, they reasserted with certainty that city officials had made a mistake.
Calder's grandfather, sculptor Alexander Milne Calder, was born in Scotland, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1868, and is best known for the colossal statue of William Penn on top of Philadelphia City Hall's tower. His father, Alexander Stirling Calder, was a well-known sculptor who created many public installations, a majority of them in nearby Philadelphia. Calder's mother was a professional portrait artist, who had studied at the Académie Julian and the Sorbonne in Paris from around 1888 until 1893. She moved to Philadelphia where she met Stirling Calder while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Calder's parents married on February 22, 1895; his sister, Mrs. Margaret Calder Hayes, was instrumental in the development of the UC Berkeley Art Museum.〔Hayes, Margaret Calder. ''Three Alexander Calders: A Family Memoir''. Middlebury, VT: Paul S. Eriksson, 1977. 〕
In 1902, Calder posed nude for his father’s sculpture ''The Man Cub,'' a cast of which is now located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. That same year he also completed his earliest sculpture, a clay elephant.〔Calder 1966, p. 13.〕 Three years later, Stirling Calder contracted tuberculosis, and Calder's parents moved to a ranch in Oracle, Arizona, leaving the children in the care of family friends for a year.〔Calder 1966, p. 15.〕 The children were reunited with their parents in late March 1906 and stayed at the ranch in Arizona until fall of the same year.
After Arizona, the Calder family moved to Pasadena, California. The windowed cellar of the family home became Calder's first studio and he received his first set of tools. He used scraps of copper wire that he found in the street to make jewelry for his sister's dolls. On January 1, 1907, Nanette Calder took her son to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, where he observed a four-horse-chariot race. This style of event later became the finale of Calder's miniature circus performances.〔Calder 1966, pp. 21–22.〕
In the fall of 1909, the Calder family moved back to Philadelphia, where Calder briefly attended Germantown Academy, then moved to Croton-on-Hudson, New York.〔Calder 1966, pp. 28–29.〕 That Christmas, he sculpted a dog and a duck out of sheet brass as gifts for his parents. The sculptures are three-dimensional and the duck is kinetic because it rocks when gently tapped.〔Hayes, Margaret Calder, ''Three Alexander Calders: A Family Memoir''. Middlebury, VT: Paul S. Eriksson, 1977, p. 41.〕 In Croton, during his early high school years, Calder was befriended by his father's painter friend Everett Shinn with whom he built a gravity powered system of mechanical trains. Calder described it, "We ran the train on wooden rails held by spikes; a chunk of iron racing down the incline speeded the cars. We even lit up some cars with candle lights".〔Calder 1966, p. 31〕 After Croton, the Calders moved to Spuyten Duyvil to be closer to New York City, where Stirling Calder rented a studio. While living in Spuyten Duyvil, Calder attended high school in nearby Yonkers. In 1912, Stirling Calder was appointed acting chief of the Department of Sculpture of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California,〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Panama Pacific International Exposition )〕 and began work on sculptures for the exposition that was held in 1915.
During Calder's high school years (1912–1915), the family moved back and forth between New York and California. In each new location, Calder's parents reserved cellar space as a studio for their son. Toward the end of this period, Calder stayed with friends in California while his parents moved back to New York, so that he could graduate from Lowell High School in San Francisco. Calder graduated with the class of 1915.
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