Dropping into Alexander Calder
’s studio in 1920s Paris, you’d spot the local avant-garde gathered around a (miniature) big top: Cirque Calder
, or Calder’s Circus
. Although he’s now best known for his mobiles, at the time Calder gained a reputation for his tiny circus of wire figures—acrobats, tightrope walkers, clowns, animals, and trainers—that he would put on for his friends such as Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró
, and Marcel Duchamp
. On the sidelines, his wife wound a gramophone, while the delighted crowd snacked on a fitting hors d’oeuvre: peanuts.