Watch Alexander Calder Perform His “Circus,” a Toy Theatre Piece Filled With Amazing Kinetic Wire Sculptures

Alexander “Sandy” Calder (1898 – 1976) was one of America’s foremost modern artists, internationally recognized for his invention of the mobile and his large-scale sculptures. At the age of eight, he started working with wire to make kinetic sculpture (one of his first was a small duck that would rock when pushed, done at the age of 11). Although he became an engineer and worked a variety of jobs, he eventually enrolled in The Art Students League of New York. While there, he worked for the National Police Gazette, covering, among other things, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circuses.

Calder had a lifelong fascination with the circus and, upon moving to Paris in 1926, he created the Cirque Calder, a collection of wire sculptures with complex mechanisms allowing them to move and do various tricks.  His first showing of his circus was to family and friends, but his popularity grew and he was soon giving shows lasting two hours in Paris and New York.  It was then that his artistic recognition spread, and he enjoyed a prolific career until his death in 1976. The video above comes to us via The Whitney Museum in NYC, which presented an exhibition called “Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933” in 2008-09. And we also recommend watching the 1961 short film, Le Cirque de Calder, where he talks about his toy-like creations.

This is the first of hopefully many guest posts by Adrienne Rumsey.

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