“The universe is real but you can’t see it. You have to imagine it. Once you imagine it, you can be realistic about reproducing it.”
Alexander “Sandy” Calder was born in Pennsylvania to a family of artists. As a child he built toys for himself and his sister, and at the age of seventeen he began studying engineering. He later moved to New York and then Paris, where he created a miniature circus from wire and found materials. Performances of the circus provided Calder an entrée into Parisian art circles. He made his first “mobile” sculpture in 1931 and soon abandoned his early motor-driven versions for those that oscillated naturally.
Let Calder inspire your students to:
- Create a mobile that is representative of an animal.
- Use wire to “draw” a portrait of a person or an animal from a photograph or a model.
- Create wearable sculpture using telephone wire.
- Practice contour drawing by creating a scene using only one line.
- Create utensils for a place setting using wire, paper cups, and paper plates.
- Use found objects to create a class circus.
Books for students:
Sandy’s Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder, Tanya Lee Stone
The Calder Game, Blue Balliett
Virtual Mobile, MathCats
Inside Scoop: Alexander Calder, National Gallery of Art
Find out more from The Museum of Modern Art:
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