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Alexander Sandy Calder was born into a family of renowned artists who encouraged him to create from a very young age As a boy he had his own workshop where he made toys for himself and his sister He received a degree in mechanical engineering in 1919 but soon after decided to pursue a career as an artist Calder attended classes at the Art Students League in New York from 1923 to 1926 supporting himself by working as an illustrator In 1926 Calder arrived in Paris where he developed his Cirque Caldera work of performance art employing small-scale circus figures he sculpted from wire wood cloth and other materials Through these elaborate performances Calder met members of the Parisian avant-garde At the same time Calder sculpted three- dimensional figurative works using continuous lengths of wire which critics described as drawings in space He explored ways to sculpt volume without mass and to captured the essence of his subject through an economy of line and articulated movement Calders wire works then became increasingly gestural implying motion By the end of 1930 this direction yielded his first purely abstract sculptures After translating drawing into three dimensions Calder envisioned putting paintings into motion He developed constructions of abstract shapes that can shift and change the composition as the elements respond to air currents These sculptures of wire and sheet metal or other materials are called mobiles A mobile laid flat exists only as a skeleton a reminder of its possibilities but when suspended it seems to come alive Calder also developed stabiles static sculptures that suggest volume in multiple flat planes as well as standing mobiles in which a mobile is balanced on top of a stabile Calder furthered his work by developing a monumental scale His later objects were huge sculptures of arching lines and graceful abstract shapes that now inhabit public plazas worldwide Calder was an artist of great originality who defined volume without mass and
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