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Trained as a mechanical engineer, Alexander Calder revolutionized the world of kinetic sculpture with his suspended and standing mobiles (a name coined by Calder’s friend and peer, Marcel Duchamp). In 1932, bored by the monotony of mechanized movement, Calder introduced a new element of chance to his mobiles. Without an internal motor, his abstract forms responded to wind or gentle touch, each floating element moving independently and constantly creating new arrangements. Inspired by Piet Mondrian and Joan Miró, Calder created simple curvilinear constructions in wood and metal, conjuring images of skeletons, tree branches, and celestial bodies. When MoMA acquired its first Calder in 1934, the institution paid a humble $60. Eighty years later, Calder’s large-scale mobile Poisson Volant sold at Christie’s for a record $25.9 million.

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