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Alexander Calder with [Paul] Matisse and a maquette of his last mobile. The maquette was enlarged 40 times in the final piece. (Source: Alexander Calder Special Collection Photo)

Alexander Calder's (1898-1976) father was Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945), who sculpted George Washington as President on the Washington Square Arch in New York. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder (1846 – 1923), sculpted the 37-foot tall William Penn statue, which stands atop Philadelphia City Hall. His great-grandfather was a tombstone carver.

So it's not surprising that Calder become a sculptor as well. But unlike his forebears, Calder was not interested in traditional sculpture. Instead, he invented a new art form -- kinetic sculpture -- the most famous of which were his "mobiles," (a word coined by his friend, the artist Marcel Duchamp). These delicately balanced sculptures consist of biomorphic shapes cut from sheet metal and painted in black, white, orange, red, white, yellow, and blue, and which hang from metal rods and wire.

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