National Gallery of Art: Art for the 
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Vertical Constellation with Bomb Alexander Calder  
  Alexander Calder at age 22
Alexander Calder at age twenty-two, The Alexander and Louisa Calder Foundation, New York



Calder came from a family of Philadelphia artists, but art was not his first career choice as a young man. He was fascinated with mechanical devices throughout childhood, and his parents were supportive when he enrolled to study mechanical engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey, in 1915. Calder soon showed himself to be a brilliant student, grasping difficult concepts with ease. After working a few years in the field, however, he was not satisfied, and in 1923 he returned to school in New York to study painting and drawing. Still, he never lost his fascination with intricate mechanical structures, which eventually led him to work in three dimensions.

To learn more about the influence of engineering on Calder’s art, visit this online article by art historian Joan M. Marter:

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