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Alexander Calder's Mysterious Tom's Sculpture

For those of use that frequent the National Gallery of Art you may have come across this sculpture sitting in front of the East Building entrance. This unique large sculpture is by Alexander Calder who is one of the featured artists at the Modern National Gallery of Art. Inside you will find several Alexander Calder mobiles, small toy-like sculptures, and other Alexander Calder artwork inside the museum. The collection that is on view shows a great range of the artist’s work.

About Alexander Calder

Photo by Arnold Newman Courtesy WikiArt

Alexander Calder is from a family of artists. Both his father and grandfather are distinguished sculpture artists, and his mother was a portrait painter. He began his studies in the field of Engineering and received a degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. He then went to Art Students League in New York City (1923-1926) and studied painting with John Sloan and George Luks, among others. His favorite subjects are the circus and animals.

How he began working with mobiles and sculptures

In 1927 he went to Paris and created small, movable wood and wire figures. There are several examples of these artworks on view at the National Gallery of Art. During his Parisian stay Calder created Calder’s Circus. This miniature circus has balancing acrobats, clowns, roaring lions, and balloons. Inspired by Piet Mondrian’s work Calder began to create mobiles. One of Calder’s floating mobile that is powered by air currents is on view in the atrium of the National Gallery of Art. His works all combine his interests in physics, astronomy, kinetics, and play.

Calder's Circus


This artwork is abstract expressionism sculpture within the Monumental Theme. I encourage everyone to walk around this sculpture. You will see that Tom’s changing shape. Sadly, there is extraordinarily little to be found written on this sculpture. All that we have are the photos that I have taken on a chilly sunny day. Enjoy.

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