A Finding Aid to the Alexander Calder Papers, 1926-1967, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.caldalex
Creators:
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976
Dates:
1926-1967
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
2.6 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of abstract kinetic artist and sculptor Alexander Calder measure 2.6 linear feet and date from 1926 to 1967. Found within the papers are scattered biographical materials, correspondence, printed materials, photographs, scattered prints and sketches by Calder, and a scrapbook. Of particular interest are the numerous photographs of Calder, including many of Calder at work in his studios, with his family at their home in Touraine, France, exhibitions, and artwork. Among the photographs are several taken by photographer and artist Herbert Matter and a photograph of Pierre Matisse at Calder's home.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of abstract kinetic artist and sculptor Alexander Calder measure 2.6 linear feet and date from 1926 to 1967. Found within the papers are scattered biographical materials, correspondence, printed materials, photographs, scattered prints and sketches by Calder, and a scrapbook. Of particular interest are the numerous photographs of Calder, including many of Calder at work in his studios, with his family at their home in Touraine, France, exhibitions, and artwork. Among the photographs are several taken by photographer and artist Herbert Matter and a photograph of Pierre Matisse at Calder's home.
Biographical material contains a few of Calder's personal documents, including a passport and address lists, as well as writings. Correspondence is scattered and of a general nature, including letters about exhibitions and artwork, and postcards from friends, some of which are illustrated. The printed material contains exhibition invitations and catalogs, news clippings, and magazines, primarily about Calder's career. Also found is scattered artwork by Calder and others, and a scrapbook of news clippings dating from 1926-1932.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The Alexander Calder papers are arranged into six series, according to type of material. The contents of each folder have been arranged chronologically.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1928-1954, undated(Box 1; 8 folders)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1928-1962, undated (Box 1; 3 folders)
  • Series 3: Printed Material, 1927-1967, undated(Box 1-3; 1 linear foot)
  • Series 4: Photographs, 1927-1962, undated (Box 3-6; 0.6 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Artwork, 1930-1947, undated(Box 5-6; 1 folder)
  • Series 6: Scrapbook, 1926-1932 (Box 7; 1 item)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Sculptor and kinetic artist Alexander Calder was born in 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania. As the son of two artists, he was encouraged to sculpt and construct things in his own workshop at an early age. In 1919 he graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, and after holding several jobs, he decided to take classes at the Art Students League in New York City. He began exhibiting his paintings, but also focused on drawing, illustration, and wood and wire sculpture. In 1926 Calder moved to Paris and began making toys for his performance piece, "Cirque Calder." He married Louisa James in 1931 and exhibited his mobiles for the first time the same year. He continued to spend his time between New York and Paris, and he and Louisa also bought a farm in Roxbury, Connecticut. They had two children, Sandra and Mary. Calder befriended many influential artists, including Joan Mirò, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, and Yves Tanguy, and joined the Abstraction-Création group in 1931. He exhibited and worked on commissions extensively throughout his career. As a very prolific artist, he had alliances with several galleries, including the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. Later in his career, Calder began focusing on large-scale outdoor sculptures. He died in 1976 at the age of 78.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
The papers of Alexander Calder were digitized in
2005
by the Archives of American Art, and total
1086
images.
Processing Information
The collection received preliminary processing at some point after donation and the collection was microfilmed on reel D305. It was fully processed, arranged and described by Erin Corley and scanned in 2005, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Erin Corley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Provenance
The collection was donated in 1963 by Alexander Calder and was microfilmed shortly after receipt.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Alexander Calder papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Preferred Citation
Alexander Calder papers, 1926-1967. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Material
The Archives also has a transcribed interview of Alexander Calder, conducted October 26, 1971 by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Sculpture, Modern -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculpture, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/