The American artist Alexander Calder was born in Philadelphia in 1898. He studied engineering from 1915 to 1919 at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He took drawing courses with Clinton Balmer in New York in 1922, and studied at the Art Students League from 1923-25.
In 1926, Calder moved to Paris where he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. This was where he first made small figures of wire, wood and cloth.
In 1930 Alexander Calder joined the artists group Abstraction Création. He increasingly dealt with abstractions. A visit to the Paris observatory was a major inspiration for his first mobile and abstract wire sculptures, for which Marcel Duchamp came up with the term mobile.
Alexander Calder presented these mobiles at the Galerie Vignon in Paris in 1932 for the first time. In these mobiles Calder had found his very own and most appropriate form of art. The perfectly balanced constructions, moved by a touch of air, were made of metal elements, wires, threads and sticks, they became more complex and abstract over the years, while their impression remained one of great poetry and playful airiness. As counterparts to the mobiles, Calder also made immobile, tectonically heavy, partly monumental constructions of sheet metal, for which Jean Arp invented the term Stabile.
Alexander Calder died in New York in 1976.