.Calder, the iron magician

Alexander Calder, "Personnages", 1945, oil on canvas, 122x153 cm.
Calder's paintings are very rare, he preferred gouaches and sculptures.
Before Calder, no one knew that a "mobile" was a moving sculpture. We owe the invention of the term to Marcel Duchamp...
"Christian Zervos, who published Cahiers d'Art, very kindly put me in touch with Aimé Maeght, who had a very good gallery in the 8th arrondissement. I brought many of Roxbury's mobiles to Maeght and had an exhibition there in June 1950, following a Miró exhibition. This marked the beginning of a long association with Aimé. Toward the end of the Miró exhibition, Maeght invited us all to dinner at a restaurant. Guiguitte and I danced a polka when the orchestra started playing one. We became very popular and were applauded."
So speaks Alexander Calder in his Autobiography. From then on he became an intimate of the Maeght family. To entertain the sick Bernard, Alexander and his wife Louisa come to give performances of Le Cirque in the Maeghts' Parisian apartment. It is a real miniature circus, made of wire and fabric, with its big top, animals, acrobats, clowns and extras, all animated and manipulated by a Calder wild animal trainer, imitating all voices.
The four suitcases containing Alexander Calder's Circus.

Formidable portrait of Alexander Calder among his creations, wonderful characters and animals gathered in his now famous "Circus".
Calder exhibited for the first time at my grandfather's house in the exhibition "Surrealism in 1947", he remained faithful to the Maeght Gallery until his death in 1977.

Fernand Léger, in front of his wire portrait created by Calder.
The mustachioed portrait, striking in its resemblance, is astonishing in the contrast between the work, so thin, so transparent, so mobile, and the hundred kilogram man:
"It's something like a walking tree trunk [...] Its place is rather outside in the wind, in the sun."
In fact, rarely has a work corresponded so much to its author. His mobiles and stabiles are so many winks, laughs and joviality, just like the character of the American giant. The man also knew how to commit himself to great causes and to speak out, in the United States, against the Vietnam War.
View of the 1954 Calder exhibition.
Aimé, convinced by his work, put all his means at the artist's disposal. "I had an exhibition of ten large stabiles at Maeght in February 1959. Madame Maeght, who was very enthusiastic about these objects, was quite surprised and said to me, "You must have racked your brains to come up with these?" Maeght must have agreed with Guiguitte because he bought the whole exhibition from me, lock, stock and barrel, before the opening; it was the first time a dealer had treated me like that."
View of Alexander Calder's Stabiles exhibition at the Galerie Maeght, 1959.
Calder designed another huge stabile, Les Renforts, for the gardens of the Foundation. His first retrospective exhibition took place there in 1969, he had fun creating everything around it, including elements of the catalog, an experience that would make him say: "I did a great retrospective at the Fondation Maeght, it was very nice to collaborate with Aimé and Sert. I considered this exhibition almost as the end of the ends. 
Alexander Calder , Les Renforts, at the Maeght Foundation
Each exhibition is an occasion for joyful reunions and memorable parties. The Maeght girls are always present. At the Maeghts, he is in family, he finds his friend Joan Miró. The complicity between the two artists is perceptible even in their tribute works. Another man shares their poetic universe, Prévert, who, better than anyone else, knows how to capture and share with the simplicity of his words, the magic of the "iron bird". Each one uses basic elements to deliver us his complex art. Simplicity of colors for Miró, of forms for Calder and of words for Prévert. The book of bibliophily Fêtes is the best illustration of this proximity of thought between Calder and Prévert.

Jean-Paul Sartre sketched by Calder. Amusing, the cigarette smoke that writes Sartre.

Excerpt from Jean-Paul Sartre's text, "Les Mobiles des Calder," published in the catalog of the Galerie Louis Carré for its exhibition of the same year 1946.
"If it is true that sculpture must engrave movement in the immobile, it would be a mistake to relate Calder's art to that of the sculptor. He does not suggest movement, he captures it; he does not think of burying it forever in bronze or gold, those glorious and stupid materials, doomed by nature to immobility. With inconsistent and vile materials, with small bones or tin or zinc, he builds strange arrangements of stems and palms, pucks, feathers, petals. They are resonators, traps, they hang at the end of a string like a spider at the end of its thread or they settle on a base, dull, folded back on themselves, falsely asleep; a wandering shiver passes by, it gets entangled in them, animates them, they channel it and give it a fleeting form: a Mobile is born."
Wonderful text by Sartre, no?
Oiseau aux roubignolles, 1930, wire, 22.5x27 cm.

Alexander Calder, "Les Renforts", stabile, 58x43x36 cm.

Alexander Calder, "L’Homme", 1967, stabile for the city of Montreal, 21x33 meters.

Alexander Calder, "Portrait of Florence Maeght", 1969, felt pen on guest book.

Calder, Poster for the Galerie Maeght