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On the campus of Grand Valley State University is Alexander Calder Fine Arts Center. When I attended there I had zero clue who Calder was, and I wondered why GVSU named their building after some guy I’d never heard of.
So when I saw his selfie in the National Portrait Gallery, my interest was piqued to learn a bit about Alexander.
1st fun fact…He went by Sandy.
2nd fun fact…His wife was Louisa James, grand niece of the author Henry James.
3rd Fun Fact….He is the the 3rd Artist named Alexander in His family. His grandfather was Alexander Milne Calder (best known for the William Penn Sculptue on the top of the Philadelphia Town Hall Tower). His father was Alexander Stirling Calder who sculpted many public installations around Philadelphia.
Sandy painted this self-portrait in 1925, while attending The Art Student League in NYC. This is just before he moved to Paris (where his career as a sculptor would began to take shape).
Alexander started his career as an engineer, then began painting New York street scenes and portraits, before settling into the mobile wire type sculptures and wire figures.
He is mostly known as the father of the mobile, but he also created jewelry and was a well established and talented print maker.
Point to ponder while you wander…If you’re famous, universities will give you free honorary doctorate degree and name buildings after you. Suddenly makes my student loans seem really stupid. 😉
Seems off topic…but it is not. In July 1969, Sandy was in Grand Rapids for the dedication of his sculpture there. Grand Valley awarded him with an honorary Doctor in Literature at their commencement ceremony. Three years later, the newly completed art center was named in his honor.
(Photo: From GVSU Website, Photographer Unknown.
This is La Grande Vitesse in Grand Rapids. It is affectionately known as “The Calder” and can actually be found in GR’s city logo. (Photo: Public Domain)