Alexander Calder was an American sculptor and draughtsman who became the pioneer of ‘mobiles’. He was born into an artistic family in Philadelphia in which his father and grandfather were both sculptors and his mother a painter. Calder initially studied mechanical engineering but then enrolled into art school in 1923. His first solo exhibition was in New York in 1928, but he then spent seven years in Paris where he met the likes of Miró and Pascin, joining the group Abstraction-Creation in 1931.
His sculptures were coined ‘mobiles’ by Duchamp as they were objects that could be moved by hand or by small electric motors. The sculptures that were immobile were coined as ‘stabiles’ by Hans Arp. His later works became increasingly large-scale and were frequently created for public spaces. Along with his mobiles and stabiles, one of his most distinctive set of works were his gouaches. Later in his life he lived in Roxbury, Connecticut, and was awarded the main prize for sculpture at the 1952 Venice Biennale and the First Prize for Sculpture at the 1958 Pittsburgh International.