Happy Birthday to the Moonlighting Ringmaster, Alexander Calder

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.

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