Calder’s circus

I had seen pictures of sculptor Alexander Calder’s tiny toy circus before, and I had read how in Paris in the 1920s the “Cirque Calder” mesmerized the like of Jean Arp, Piet Mondrian, and Jean Cocteau.

He would issue invitations to his guests, who would sit on makeshift bleachers munching peanuts, just like the real circus. With the crash of cymbals and music from an old gramophone, the circus would begin. Many of the individual circus animals and performers include mechanized parts—Calder was originally trained as a mechanical engineer.

Still I couldn’t picture how it all worked. What did the performances actually look like? So I was happy to see that someone has YouTube’d a movie of (a much older) Calder and his wife performing his famous circus. Here is the first clip. Find the others with this search.

Watching Calder’s bucking broncos and weightlifting strong man makes me think that he must have done a lot to inspire people like Arthur Ganson. Follow the link and be sure to look at the “Machine with Wishbone” movie.

One thought on “Calder’s circus”

  1. The original Calder Circus and the movie are on permanent exhibition in the main lobby of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Definitely worth a visit.

Comments are closed.