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Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition

Thomas M. Messer
Published in 1964
92 pages, fully illustrated

In the introductory essay to the 1964 catalogue, Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition, museum director Thomas Messer notes, "Calder, it must be remembered, did not invent motion but rather found a place for it in the expressive vocabulary of art." Messer goes on to describe some of Calder's early influences, including Piet Mondrian. When he visited Mondrian’s studio in 1930, Calder said that he wished everything there was in motion. The catalogue includes many color and black-and-white reproductions of his work in addition to a series of photographs of the artist at work in his studio and at home with his family. The book is divided into nine thematic sections containing imagery and short texts that highlight Calder's diverse modes of production: Drawings, Graphics, Illustration; Toys, Circus, Wire Sculpture, and Jewelry; Wood and Bronze Sculpture; Abstract Constructions; Transition to Motion; Mobiles; Stabiles; Mobile-Stabiles; and finally Paintings and Tapestries, which were the most recent works included in the exhibition. The catalogue also includes a time line of important events in Calder's career, a selected bibliography, and presents overall an extensive representation of Calder’s work through 1964.


Alexander Calder is a sculptor in the sense that sculpture—at rest or in motion—assumes a central position in his work. From it he strays at will, only to return with newly gathered strength which he applies to his principal task. Thus, not only his drawings and his gouaches, but also his paintings, prints and book illustrations, his jewelry, tapestry and various functional whatnots should be seen as part of a total production. Calder's minor arts are part and parcel of the same compulsive experiment that has created the mobile. Often related and contributory to the main line of his sculptural thought, the objects created in other media can be of sparkling quality and irresistible charm.

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