Alexander Stirling Calder
1870-1945

Theme/Style – Beaux Arts, figurative art

Media – Sculptures

Artistic Focus – A sculptor in the Beaux Arts tradition, Alexander Stirling Calder considered sculpture to be a decorative element whose purpose was the enhancement of architecture. His personal approach to Beaux Arts sculpture focused on the simplification of forms in an effort to make them less effete and more attuned to the vitality of the Western United States.

Career Highlights –

• The son of sculptor Alexander Milne Calder and father of mobile artist Alexander Calder, Alexander Stirling Calder studied with his father in his hometown of Philadelphia, after which he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
• Tuberculosis forced Calder to move to Arizona, then to Pasadena, California, in 1906.
• During his four years in Southern California, Calder completed a number of portrait busts, and his first major commission - a group of sculpted panels on the portico of what is now the California Institute of Technology.
• From 1912 to 1915, Calder lived in San Francisco, where he continued sculpting and served as acting chief of sculpture for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. In that capacity, he supervised the work of 44 artists, creating two of his own sculptures and working on two other monumental figure and equestrian groups.
• Among Calder’s other commissions were a statue of George Washington for the Washington Square Arch in New York City (1918), the Swann Memorial Fountain in Philadelphia (1924) and the Leif Ericsson Memorial in Reykjavik, Iceland (1932).

back