American artist, Alexander Calder, was born into a long line of sculptors being the fourth generation to take up the art form. He began constructing at a very young age. His first known art tool was a pair of pliers. At the age of eight Calder was creating jewellery for his sister's dolls from beads and copper wire. Over the next few years, as his family moved to Pasadena, Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco, he crafted small animal figures and game boards from scavenged wood and brass. Calder's interest initially led not to art, but to mechanical engineering and applied kinetics, which he studied at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey (1915-1919).

 

He studied painting at the Arts Students League (1923-1926) and then moved to Paris in 1926. He began working abstractly in wire, wood and sheet metal, and his first exhibition of mobiles (a term coined for his work by Marcel Duchamp) was held in the city in 1932. His works are characterised by their dynamism. He has become world renowned for his enchanting biomorphic mobiles and for his free-standing, non-moving stabiles.

 

In 1972 Calder became interested in Latin American textiles and craft following his involved in fundraising for  the devastating Nicaraquan Earthquake at the time. He was drawn to the intricate skill involved in their woven peices. 1975 he created 14 designs for wall hangings and hammocks which he commisioned traditional craftsmen to work up in jute. He was trilled with the results and went on, along with many other modern artists of the time including Picasso and Miro, to collaborate with the Aubusson atelier in France until the end of his life.