Hi! [Two Acrobats], Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976) Hi! [Two Acrobats], c. 1928 Brass wire and wood Gift of Mrs.Theodore A. Cooke, Mrs. P. E. Spalding, and Mrs. Walter F. Dillingham, 1937 (4595) Alexander Calder revolutionized sculpture in the 20th century with the introduction of the mobile, a term coined by his friend Marcel Duchamp, but kinetic sculpture was only one of his achievements. Calder’s early work with wire demonstrated the aesthetic potential of untraditional media and challenged traditional conventions of sculpture by introducing open space and transparency into three-dimensional form. Calder studied engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in the 1910s, before enrolling in the Art Students League in New York in 1923 to study painting. In 1926, he moved to Paris and, drawing from his engineering background, developed a miniature circus made up of performers articulated in wire and found objects. Beginning in 1927, he presented Circus in Paris, New York, and elsewhere, holding elaborate performances and mimicking actual circus acts; in the process he met some of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Although Calder's work would become more abstract in later years, Circus, with its emphasis on the movement of form and line in space, is an important part of the evolution of his work— demonstrating a dedication to kinetics as art from the outset of his career.