|I purchased this book, "Sandy's Circus" as an introductory artifact for future classroom art projects about circus life.|
It is the story of Alexander Calder's early life. The book is authored by Tanya Lee Stone and is illustrated
by Boris Kulikov.
Alexander Calder (July 22, 1898 – November 11, 1976) was an American sculptor best known as the originator of the mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture the delicately balanced or suspended components of which move in response to motor power or air currents; by contrast, Calder’s stationary sculptures are called stabiles. He also produced numerous wire figures, notably for a vast miniature circus.
Alexander "Sandy" Calder was born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania on July 22, 1898. His father, Stirling Calder, was a well-known sculptor who created many public installations, a majority of them in nearby Philadelphia.
Sandy Calder's grandfather, sculptor Alexander Milne Calder, was born in Scotland, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1868, and is best known for the colossal statue of William Penn on top of Philadelphia City Hall's tower. Sandy Calder's mother, Nanette (née Lederer), was a professional portrait artist, who had studied at the Académie Julian and the Sorbonne in Paris from around 1888 until 1893. She moved to Philadelphia where she met Stirling Calder while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Sandy Calder's parents married on February 22, 1895; his sister, Mrs. Margaret Calder Hayes, is considered instrumental in the development of the UC Berkeley Art Museum.
In 1902, Sandy Calder completed his earliest sculpture, a clay elephant. Three years later, Stirling Calder contracted tuberculosis, and Calder's parents moved to a ranch in Oracle, Arizona, leaving the children in the care of family friends for a year. The children were reunited with their parents in late March 1906 and stayed at the ranch in Arizona until fall of the same year.
After Arizona, the Calder family moved to Pasadena, California. The windowed cellar of the family home became Calder's first studio and he received his first set of tools. He used scraps of copper wire that he found in the streets to make jewelry and beads for his sister's dolls. On January 1, 1907, Nanette Calder took her son to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, where he observed a four-horse-chariot race. This style of event later became the finale of Calder's wire circus shows. In 1909, when Calder was in the fourth grade, he sculpted a dog and a duck out of sheet brass as Christmas gifts for his parents. The sculptures were three dimensional and the duck was kinetic because it rocked when gently tapped.
In 1910, the Calder family moved back to Philadelphia, where Sandy briefly attended Germantown Academy, then moved to Croton-on-Hudson, New York. In Croton, during his early high school years, Calder was befriended by painter Everett Shinn with whom he built a gravity powered system of mechanical trains. Calder described it, "We ran the train on wooden rails held by spikes; a chunk of iron racing down the incline speeded the cars. We even lit up some cars with candle lights". After Croton, the Calders moved to Spuyten Duyvil to be closer to the Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City, where Stirling Calder rented a studio. While living in Spuyten Duyvil, Sandy Calder attended high school in nearby Yonkers. In 1912, Stirling Calder was appointed acting chief of the Department of Sculpture of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California.
He began work on sculptures for the exposition that was held in 1915. During Sandy Calder's high school years (1912–1915), the family moved back and forth between New York and California. In each new location, Calder's parents reserved cellar space as a studio for their son. Toward the end of this period, Calder stayed with friends in California while his parents moved back to New York, so that he could graduate from Lowell High School in San Francisco. Calder graduated with the class of 1915.
In 1926, at the suggestion of a Serbian toy merchant in Paris, Calder began to make toys. At the urging of fellow sculptor Jose de Creeft, he submitted them to the Salon des Humoristes. Later that fall, Calder began to create his Cirque Calder, a miniature circus fashioned from wire, string, rubber, cloth, and other found objects. Designed to fit into suitcases (it eventually grew to fill five), the circus was portable, and allowed Calder to hold performances on both sides of the Atlantic. He gave improvised shows, recreating the performance of a real circus. Soon, his Cirque Calder (usually on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art at present) became popular with the Parisian avant-garde.
In 1927, Calder returned to the United States. He designed several kinetic wooden push and pull toys for children, which were mass-produced by the Gould Manufacturing Company, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. His originals, as well as playable replicas, are on display in the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Throughout the 1930s, Calder continued to give Cirque Calder performances, but he also worked with choreographer Martha Graham, designing stage sets for her ballets and created a moving stage construction to accompany Eric Satie's Socrate in 1936.
"Kids made this incredible art after hearing author Tanya Lee Stone read her picture book about Alexander Calder's circus made of found materials. The artist's Cirque de Calder is on exhibit at the Whitney Museum. Stone's picture book about Calder and his circus is called Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder. Illustrations in the book by Boris Kulikov. Published by Viking Children's Books. (c) 2008" by goldendoodlerule
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