Painters [*/ ) Motion / Engineer / Universe / Fun | Alexander Calder, 1898-1976

Alexander Calder 1898 1976

Alexander Calder, 1971 / Alexander Calder, Les Fleurs II, 1972


“I paint with shapes.”

“Just as one can compose colors, or forms, so one can compose motions.”

“My whole theory about art is the disparity that exists between form, masses and movement.”

“Why must art be static? You look at an abstraction, sculptured or painted, an entirely exciting arrangement of planes,  spheres, nuclei, entirely without meaning. It would be perfect, but it is always still. The next step in sculpture is motion.”

“The sense of motion in painting and sculpture has long been considered as one of the primary elements of the composition.”

“To most people who look at a mobile, it’s no more than a series of flat objects that move. To a few, though, it may be poetry.”

“When everything goes right a mobile is a piece of poetry that dances with the joy of life and surprise!”

“It whirls, it whirls.”

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder


“A mobile is an abstract sculpture made chiefly out of sheet metal, steel rods, wire and wood.
Some or all of these elements move, propelled by electric motors, wind, water or by hand.”

“My fingers always seem busier than my mind.”

“With a mechanical drive you can control the thing like the choreography in a ballet and superimpose
various movements.. a great number, even, by means of cams and other mechanical devices.”

“To an engineer, good enough means perfect. With an artist, there’s no such thing as perfect.”

“The trouble with a lot of artists today is that they have too much technique and equipment. They don’t
know what to do with it all. If you cut down on it, you can work more strongly within narrower limits.”

Alexander Calder Waves 1973

Alexander Calder, Waves, 1973

Alexander Calder Sans titre

Alexander Calder, Sans titre


“The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof.
For that is a rather large model to work from.”

“What I mean is that the idea of detached bodies floating in space, of different sizes and densities, perhaps of different colors and temperatures, and surrounded and interlarded with wisps of gaseous condition, and some at rest, while others move in peculiar manners, seems to me the ideal source of form.”

“If you can imagine a thing, conjure it up in space then you can make it… The universe is real but you can’t see it. You have to imagine it. Then you can be realistic about reproducing it.”

“Each element can move, shift or sway back & forth in a changing relation to each of the other elements in the universe. Thus, they reveal not only isolated moments, but a physical law or variation among the elements of life. Not extractions, but abstractions. Abstractions which resemble no living things except by their manner of reacting.”

“The simplest forms in the universe are the sphere and the circle. I represent them by disks and then I vary them… spheres of different sizes, densities, colours and volumes, floating in space, traversing clouds, sprays of water, currents of air, viscosities and odours – of the greatest variety and disparity.”

Alexander Calder Kiki de Montparnasse II 1930

Alexander Calder, Kiki de Montparnasse II, 1930 / Alexander Calder


“I have been making wire jewelry – and think I’ll really do something with it, eventually.”

“I love red so much, I almost want to paint everything red.”

“You see nature and then you try to emulate it.”

“My fan mail is enormous. Everyone is under six.”

“Above all, art should be fun.”

Alexander Calder, 1898-1976

Alexander Calder Circusc.1975

Alexander Calder, Circus, c.1975

Alexander Calder Tricolored Horse 1974

Alexander Calder, Tricolored Horse, 1974

Peggy Guggenheim at the Greek Pavilion 24th Venice Biennale where she exhibited her collection while she arranges Alexander Calder Arc of Petals 1941 1948

Peggy Guggenheim at the Greek Pavilion, 24th Venice Biennale, where she exhibited
her collection, while she arranges Alexander Calder, Arc of Petals (1941), 1948

The Angel of the City | Marino Marini, 1948 / Peggy Guggenheim

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