Alexander Calder (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Calder was an experimental abstract artist who applied engineering concepts to sculpture and other media to create a new understanding of the use of space and form in art.
Born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, Alexander Calder grew up surrounded by artists. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, was a Scottish immigrant and a prominent sculptor, and his father, Alexander Stirling Calder, also became a successful sculptor and a member of the National Academy. Alexander Stirling married portrait painter Nannette Lederer, and Peggy, their first child, was born in 1896. Alexander “Sandy” Calder followed two years later. Although the family moved frequently, Calder’s parents always encouraged their children to be creative. When he was four, Calder posed for one of his father’s sculptures and later posed for his mother’s oil portraits. At the age of five Calder made little wood and wire figures and later created jewelry for his sister’s dolls using bits of wire collected from spliced cables left in the street. His sister bought him his first pair of pliers with her weekly allowance. Calder had his own workshop before the age of ten, and later his parents always gave him cellar space to experiment with his creations. Despite Calder’s extensive exposure to art, he was not at all anxious to pursue an art career. After a brief discussion with his father, in 1915 Calder entered the Steven’s...
(The entire section is 1902 words.)
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