Alexander Calder was one of the most innovative and original American artists of the twentieth century. In 1926, Calder arrived in Paris and devoted himself to a project called the Circus that occupied him for over five years. This contains characters and animals made out of wire, scraps of cloth, wood, cork, labels, bits of scrap metal and pieces of rubber. Calder transported his little theater in suitcases and performed it for his friends. During his performances, Calder invented ways to simulate the flight of birds: "These are little bits of white paper, with a hole and slight weight on each one, which flutter down several variously coiled thin steel wires which I jiggle so that they flutter down like doves
" (Alexander Calder, An Autobiography with Pictures [New York: Pantheon, 1966], p.92) The Circus is the laboratory of Calder's work; in it he experimented with new formulas and techniques. "By 1930," sculptor historian Wayne Craven has written, Calder's "Circus had become one of the real successes of the art world of Montparnasse, as well as among the Paris intellectuals. Jean Cocteau, Fernand Leger, Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Jean Arp... and others were captivated by it, whereas none of them paid much attention to Calder's wood carvings. Such encouragement undoubtedly led him to try more serious experiments in wire sculptures." During this same period he developed wire figures such as Josephine Baker, The Negress, and the Portrait of Edgar Varese, while continuing to draw and to create circus scenes. Next he worked in wood, creating The Horse, The Cow, female nudes, and Old Bull, between 1928 and 1930, eventually becoming interested in the movement of objects, some with motors. Calder discovered what he wanted: "to paint and work in the abstract" (Calder, p.133). He created relief paintings such as White Panel (1934) and applied himself thereafter to creating sculptures based on the plastic dynamics of asymmetry. Calder discovered the leaders of...
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