Alexander Calder

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Simple Machines

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Alexander Calder

Kinetic Sculpture, Performance Art

Today we will be investigating another engineer turned artist.

Alexander Calder is most famous for inventing the mobile and stabile.

Calder Mobile

Before he did all that, he created a miniature circus comprised of kinetic sculptures.


It all started when a newspaper, the National Police Gazette,

assigned him to illutstrate a story about the

Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

He spent the next two weeks attending the circus. He fell in love.

In 1929, he moved to Paris where he immediately began building his circus.

Ultimately, he packed all his treasures into two suitcases

and began toting them around Paris and performing his circus.

This is believed to be the first ever performance art.

To see Calder performing his circus go here:

A great book to share with student’s about Calder’s life is:

Sandy’s Circus: A Story About Alexander by Tanya Lee Stone

You can find the story on youtube here: 

To find circus performer kinetic sculpture ideas look here:– Students could make their own balancing acrobat this way instead of the robot.

In my last three posts,

I hope that I have helped you find one or more enriching ideas

to spice up your simple machine unit.

Coming in my next post: April Showers!


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