Skip to main content

Alexander Calder papers, 1926-1967

Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976


The papers of Alexander Calder were digitized in 2005 by the Archives of American Art. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 1,086 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 2.6 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of abstract kinetic artist and sculptor Alexander Calder measure 2.6 linear feet and date from 1926 to 1967. Found within the papers are scattered biographical materials, correspondence, printed materials, photographs, scattered prints and sketches by Calder, and a scrapbook. Of particular interest are the numerous photographs of Calder, including many of Calder at work in his studios, with his family at their home in Touraine, France, exhibitions, and artwork. Among the photographs are several taken by photographer and artist Herbert Matter and a photograph of Pierre Matisse at Calder's home.

Biographical/Historical Note

Sculptor and kinetic artist Alexander Calder was born in 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania. As the son of two artists, he was encouraged to sculpt and construct things in his own workshop at an early age. In 1919 he graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, and after holding several jobs, he decided to take classes at the Art Students League in New York City. He began exhibiting his paintings, but also focused on drawing, illustration, and wood and wire sculpture. In 1926 Calder moved to Paris and began making toys for his performance piece, "Cirque Calder." He married Louisa James in 1931 and exhibited his mobiles for the first time the same year. He continued to spend his time between New York and Paris, and he and Louisa also bought a farm in Roxbury, Connecticut. They had two children, Sandra and Mary. Calder befriended many influential artists, including Joan Mirò, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, and Yves Tanguy, and joined the Abstraction-Création group in 1931. He exhibited and worked on commissions extensively throughout his career. As a very prolific artist, he had alliances with several galleries, including the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. Later in his career, Calder began focusing on large-scale outdoor sculptures. He died in 1976 at the age of 78.


The collection was donated in 1963 by Alexander Calder and was microfilmed shortly after receipt.

Related Materials

Language Note

English .


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.