Born Aug. 22: Alexander Calder
By Michael Baadke
American sculptor Alexander “Sandy” Calder was born Aug. 22, 1898, in Lawnton, Pa., the son of sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder and the grandson of sculptor Alexander Milne Calder. His mother, Nanette Lederer Calder, was an accomplished portrait artist.
Before studying at the Art Students League, Calder earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1919, and sailed from New York to San Francisco (via the Panama Canal) as a fireman and mechanic aboard a passenger ship.
Calder is known primarily for his sculptures ranging from small mobiles of abstract shapes to massive stabiles prominently displayed in outdoor venues. He also formed wire sculptures, jewelry and toys, including a famous miniature circus in 1926, as well as drawings and paintings.
The United States Postal Service issued a set of five stamps March 25, 1998, to commemorate Calder in the year of his birth centenary (Scott 3198-3202). The stamps show photographs of his sculptures Black Cascade, 13 Verticals (1959); Untitled (1965); Rearing Stallion (1928); Portrait of a Young Man (ca. 1945); and Un effet du japonais (1945). A photograph of Calder in a French foundry by Pedro E. Guerrero is printed in the stamp pane selvage.
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