Spotlighting Calder

Jan 16, 2021Sally McIntyre
Spotlighting Calder
Calder is an artist whose work most people can recognize, the prolific American sculptor who created one of the most iconic and unique visual styles in modern art — practically inventing an entire genre, kinetic sculpture, that is still spearheaded by his visionary work even to this day. Born in Philadelphia in 1898, Calder came from a family of artists, his grandfather and father being renowned and publicly recognized sculptors and his mother a professional portrait artist. Early on his parents voiced that they did not want him to suffer the life of an artist, so he decided to study mechanical engineering, something he seemed to have a natural intuition about from a young age. It is apparent that his artistic genes were not to be forgone however, inescapably infused into all that he expressed— his graceful and inspired compositions are clearly the results of an effortless combination of both his artistic instincts and his affinity with engineering.
Though most known for his sculpture, he created a great volume of works in many different mediums including painting and printmaking, miniatures, children’s book illustrations, theater set design, jewelry design, tapestries and rugs, and even political posters. What tied together this vast range of expressions could be identified as an investigation into abstract surrealism, drawing inspiration from the movement and balance found in the natural world. Often containing biomorphic forms, his innate sense of lightness and whimsy is tempered by an unwavering understanding of how the world assembles itself, reflecting the blissful unpredictability combined with the stability of structure seen within nature. This strong and distinctive vantage point led to Calder being widely considered one of the most important American sculptors of the 20th century.

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