Born in Pennsylvania in 1898, Alexander Calder graduated in 1919 from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken with an engineering degree, but later moved to New York to study painting at the Art Students League. Whilst working for the National Police Gazette he was sent out to do sketches of circuses, an assignment that inspired the signature colourful motifs of his Cirque Calder.
Calder moved to Paris in 1926 where, having been fascinated by inventing moveable objects as a child, he started to fashion vast models of elaborate circus scenes. These theatrical installations consisted of kinetic wire sculptures that he would operate during a two-hour performance. His wire Stabiles of figures and portraits subsequently received critical acclaim at exhibitions in New York, Paris, and Berlin. Influenced by the work of contemporaries such as Miró and Mondrian, Calder created his famous Mobiles. As one of the most celebrated sculptors of the 20th century, Calder was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Bicentennial Artist Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in 1976.
He died in 1976, at 78 years old.