Assemblage - Bird | Artopia

Alexander Calder

A Closer Look

Artists often use humor. Bird by Alexander Calder is one example. Calder made a lot of humorous artworks including a film of his miniature circus, the Cirque Calder, in which he moves the figures using his hands and animation. This hanging bird is made out of tin cans. The writing on the cans makes you want to look closely to see what it says. Try cutting shapes out of cereal boxes and assembling them to make an animal. Use found materials like wire to add interest.

About the Sculpture

Bird is a simple form of mobile. Many of Calder's mobiles are made of lots of different pieces carefully balanced so that the artwork hangs straight. This little tin can bird dangles by itself from a string but it is still a mobile--an artwork that moves at the slightest touch or breeze. Calder shaped its feet out of wire. He often made sculptures by bending and twisting wire, a way of "drawing" in three-dimensional space that no one had ever done before.

About the Artist

Alexander Calder's first job as an artist sent him to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to sketch circus scenes. He fell in love with the circus and made his own, the Cirque Calder--tiny circus performers, animals and props made of wire, cloth and other materials. He packed it in a trunk, carried it with him and held performances. In 1931 he invented a kind of kinetic sculpture which Marcel Duchamp called a "mobile."


Write About It

  • Make a list of what you see.
  • How did the artist use the elements and principles of design?
  • What do you think the sculpture means? How does it make you feel?
  • Select two sculptures to compare & contrast.