Alexander Calder was born in 1898, the second child of artist parents?his father was a sculptor and his mother a painter (figs. 1?2). Because his father, Alexander Stirling Calder, received public commissions, the family traversed the country throughout Calder?s childhood. Calder was encouraged to create, and from the age of eight he always had his own workshop wherever the family lived. For Christmas in 1909,Calder presented his parents with two of his ?rst sculptures, a tiny dog and duck cut from a brass sheet and bent into formation (figs. 3?4). The duck is kinetic?it rocks back and forth when tapped. Even at age eleven, his facility in handling materials was apparent.Despite his talents, Calder did not originally set out to become an artist. He instead enrolled at the Stevens Institute of Technology after high school and graduated in 1919 with an engineering degree (fig. 5). Calder worked for several years after graduation at various jobs, including as a hydraulics and automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship?s boiler room. While serving in the latter occupation, on a ship from New York bound for San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck to see both a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon; each was visible on opposite horizons (the ship then lay off the Guatemalan coast). The experience made a lasting impression on Calder: he would refer to it throughout his life.Calder committed to becoming an artist shortly thereafter, and in 1923 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League. He also took a job illustrating for the National Police Gazette, which sent him to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to sketch circus scenes for two weeks in 1925 (fig. 6). The circus became a lifelong interest of Calder?s, and after moving to Paris in 1926, he created his Cirque Calder, a complex and unique body of art (figs. 7?8). The assemblage included diminutive performers, animals, and props he had observed at the Ringling Bros. Circus. Fashioned from wire, leather, cloth, and other found materials, Cirque Calder was designed to be manipulated manually by Calder. Every piece was small enough to be packed into a large trunk, enabling the artist to carry it with him and hold performances anywhere. Its first performance was held in Paris for an audience of friends and peers, and soon Calder was presenting the circus in both Paris and New York to much success. Calder?s renderings of his circus often lasted about two hours and were quite elaborate. Indeed, the Cirque Calder predated performance art by forty years.
Good, There are some tape blemishes bleeding thru the front of the litho. It is framed in its original state, a metal frame with black mat.
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