Calder Foundation
1953–1962 Large-scale Developments and Intercontinental Projects

During a yearlong stay in Aix-en-Provence, Calder executed the first group of large-scale outdoor works and concurrently concentrated on painting gouaches. In 1954–55, he visited the Middle East, India, and South America, with trips to Paris in between, resulting in an astonishing output and range of work. Toward the late 1950s, Calder turned his attention to commissions both at home and abroad, producing such recognizable works as .125 (1957), a mobile hung in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, and Spirale (1958), a major commission for U.N.E.S.C.O. in Paris. In Italy, Calder created Teodelapio, a stabile over 58 feet tall, for the 1962 Spoleto Festival.



The Calders arrive in the hamlet of Les Granettes in Aix-en-Provence. Their house, Mas des Roches, has little water and no electricity. Calder uses the carriage shed as his studio, where he works on gouaches. At a blacksmith shop nearby, he makes a series of large standing

mobiles conceived for the outdoors.

Calder 1966, 214

3 September

Calder performs Cirque Calder at Galerie Maeght Paris.

CF, photography file
Calder with Trapeze act performing Cirque Calder (1926–31), Galerie Maeght, 1953
Photograph by Agnès Varda


Back in Aix-en-Provence, the Calders find another house nearby, Malvalat, which has running water and electricity. Calder sets up a studio on the third floor and continues to concentrate on gouaches.

Calder 1966, 218; MoMA, Calder to Valentin, 2 November

11 November

Calder visits Jean and sees his renovated mill house in Saché. Calder agrees to a trade of three mobiles for François Premier, a dilapidated seventeenth-century stone house built adjoining a cliff on Jean’s property.

Calder, 1966, 220–21
François Premier (1963)
François Premier, Saché, c. 1963Photograph by Pedro Guerrero © Pedro Guerrero
François Premier, Saché, c. 1963
Photograph by Pedro Guerrero

End of November

Calder plans a trip to Beirut to visit his friend Henri Seyrig and to make a mobile commissioned by Middle East Airlines.

Calder 1966, 222; CF, Calder to mother and the Sterns, 16 November

15 December 1953–28 February 1954

Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil, presents the II Bienal. United States representation consists of three exhibitions prepared by the Museum of Modern Art, New York: two group shows and a solo show devoted to works by Calder.

CF, exhibition file

10 January

The Calders arrive in Beirut after a stop in Limassol, Cyprus. They reside with the Seyrigs for a month, visiting Syria and Jordan by car.

CF, passport; Calder 1966, 226


Calder is given a room to serve as a studio in the Middle East Airlines ticket office, which is under construction.

Calder 1966, 226

24 July

The renovation of François Premier is completed.

CF, Davidson to Calder, 24 July

19 August

Calder’s dealer, Curt Valentin, dies in Italy.

Calder 1966, 231

28 August–15 November

Belgiojoso, Peressutti & Rogers of Milan build a labyrinth for the X Triennale di Milano at the Uffici Palazzo dell’arte al Parco. Calder’s Le Cagoulard is installed in the center, and Saul Steinberg’s drawings are on the walls.

CF, project file

13 November–15 December

Galerie Maeght, Paris, exhibits “Aix. Saché. Roxbury. 1953–54.” The catalogue texts are “Poème offert à Alexander Calder et à Louisa” by Henri Pichette and “Calder” by Frank Elgar.

CF, exhibition file
Calder installing works for Aix. Saché. Roxbury. 1953–54, Galerie Maeght, Paris, 1954
Photograph by Agnès Varda

7 December

A visa is issued for the Calders’ trip to India. Calder and Louisa have been invited by Gira Sarabhai, an architect and designer, to a tour of India in exchange for works of art.

Calder 1966, 231–32

12 January

The Calders arrive in Bombay. They journey by train to Gira Sarabhai’s home in Ahmedabad, where Calder makes eleven sculptures and some gold jewelry.

CF, passport; Calder 1966, 232–33

15 August

Calder arrives in Caracas. He sets up a studio at the metal shop of the Universidad Central de Venezuela and sees Acoustic Ceiling installed in Aula Magna for the first time. Louisa plans to join Calder in Caracas, but a tornado hits Connecticut and causes extensive flooding; she

cancels her trip.

CF, passport; Calder 1966, 242

11–25 September

Villanueva arranges “Exposición Calder” at Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas.

Calder 1966, 242; CF, exhibition file

28 October

Sandra Calder and Jean Davidson are married in Saché. As a wedding present, Miró gives Sandra a drawing.

Calder 1966, 246; CF, object file

9 November

The Calders and Davidsons leave Paris and arrive in Germany, where Calder has been commissioned to make a stabile for the American Consulate in Frankfurt. The Calders stay at the Frankfurter Hof. Calder works with the bridge builders Fries et Cie to construct the monumental

stabile Hextopus.

Calder 1966, 247


Calder completes his fountain commission Water Ballet for the General Motors Technical Center, Warren, Michigan. There is a dedication on 15 May.

CF, Saarinen to Calder, 27 April; CF, Dinkeloo to Calder, 17 May

3 January

Arnold Newman photographs Calder in his Roxbury home and studio.

CF, photography file
Calder, Roxbury studio (1957)
Calder, Roxbury studio, 1957. The Cock's Comb hangs overhead.Photograph by Arnold Newman © Arnold Newman
Calder, Roxbury studio, 1957. The Cock’s Comb hangs overhead.
Photograph by Arnold Newman

15 March

The Committee of Art Advisors at UNESCO approves Calder’s maquette for a standing mobile. Titled Spirale, the mobile top is made by Calder at Segré’s Iron Works in Connecticut and the stabile bottom is made with the collaboration of Jean Prouvé in France.

CF, Evans to Calder, 15 March
4 Masters Exhibition: Rodin, Brancusi, Gauguin, Calder (1957)

Alexander Calder, Statement

World House Galleries, New York. 4 Masters Exhibition: Rodin, Brancusi, Gauguin, Calder. Exhibition catalogue. 1957.

9 April

At Waterbury Iron Works in Connecticut, Calder finishes the mobile commissioned by the Port Authority of New York. He initially titles it .125, the gauge of the aluminum elements, although the work is later dubbed Flight. The mobile is placed in a storeroom near the International Arrivals

Building of Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International Airport), where it is to be installed upon completion of the terminal.

CF, project file

8–18 July

While visiting Ritou Nitzschke and André Bac in La Roche Jaune, Brittany, the Calders buy an old customs house, Le Palud, located at the mouth of the Tréguier River. A few times a year, at high tide, the house site becomes an island.

CF, Louisa to Nanette, 8 July; Calder 1966, 252–53

27 July–4 November

Uffici Palazzo dell’Arte al Parco, Milan, exhibits the XI Triennale di Milano. Calder makes the stabile Funghi Neri, enlarged from a maquette for the exhibition.

CF, exhibition and project files

20 September

Calder and Louisa see .125 installed in the International Arrivals Terminal of John F. Kennedy Airport for the first time.

CF, project file


Calder completes the motorized, monumental sculpture The Whirling Ear, a commission made for the pool in front of the United States Pavilion at the Brussels Universal and International Exhibition. The sculpture was made by Calder at Gowans-Knight in Watertown,


CF, project file; Calder 1966, 258, 260

5 December 1958–8 February 1959

Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, presents the 1958 Pittsburgh Bicentennial International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture. Calder wins first prize in the sculpture category for Pittsburgh, a monumental mobile, which is purchased by G. David Thompson

and donated to Allegheny County. It is installed at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

CF, exhibition file

15 May–22 June

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, exhibits “Alexander Calder, Stabilen, Mobilen.” The catalogue texts are “Stabiles” by Georges Salles and “Calder und die mobiles” by Willem Sandberg. The exhibition travels to Hamburg, Krefeld, Mannheim, Wuppertal, and Zurich.

CF, exhibition file


The Calders depart Paris and arrive in Rio de Janeiro, where they spend a month at the Gloria Hotel. During their stay, they visit Brazil’s new capital, Brasília.

CF, passport; Calder 1966, 253

25 February

The Calders return to Brazil for the Carnaval.

CF, passport

12 March

Calder’s mother, Nanette Lederer Calder, dies.

Calder 1966, 255

Before 12 October

On their way to Le Havre, Calder and Louisa pay a visit to painter Pierre Tal-Coat in Normandy. Calder is envious of the size of his studio and is inspired to build a much larger studio of his own:

But the size of the studio gnawed at me the moment I saw it, and I became very jealous. So, after our arrival in Roxbury, I immediately wrote Jean at the Moulin Vert, in Saché, asking to have a big studio built as soon as possible.

Calder 1966, 260

27 March

In a letter to Giovanni Carandente, Calder agrees to a proposal to make a sculpture for the Spoleto Festival in Italy. He decides to make “a stabile, which will stand on the ground, + arch the roadway.” His work results in Teodelapio, a monumental stabile, which is completed in

August 1962.

Carandente 1996, 18–19
Teodelapio (1962)
Teodelapio, Spoleto, Italy, 1962Photograph by Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs
Teodelapio, Spoleto, Italy, 1962
Photograph by Ugo Mulas

4 July–12 August

Tate Gallery, London, exhibits “Alexander Calder: Sculpture–Mobiles,” a retrospective. The catalogue’s introduction is written by Sweeney.

CF, exhibition file
Next timeline
1963–1976 Monumental Works

In 1963, Calder completed construction of a large studio overlooking the Indre Valley. With the assistance of a full-scale, industrial ironworks, he began to fabricate his monumental works in France and devoted much of his later working years to public commissions. Calder died in New York in 1976 at the age of seventy-eight.