Alexander Calder, also known as Sandy Calder, was born on July 22, 1898 into an artistically gifted family. His father and grandfather were sculptors and his mother was a painter, which provided him with the creative upbringing that would shape his future. Calder became an American sculptor and artist; he is probably most famous for his stabile sculptures and mobiles, but he also created paintings, lithographs, toys, tapestry, and jewelry. Today, Calder is recognized as one of the leading international sculptors of the twentieth century. He started his art career after achieving a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1923, he began attending the Art Student League in New York City. However, his career wouldn't be set in motion until he moved to Paris three years later. Calder returned to the United States in 1933 where he opened a studio in Roxbury, CT. He lived and worked there for the remainder of his career until his death on November, 11, 1976.
During his time in Connecticut, Calder was commissioned to create "La Grande Vitesse", the first public work of art in the United States to be funded with federal monies. The work was dedicated to the city of Grand Rapids, MI on June 14, 1969. The "La Grande Vitesse", which roughly translates to "great swiftness", would become the centerpiece of Grand Rapids. The piece resides in Calder Plaza, a public square in the heart of the city's government district. The plaza is a hotspot for art, culture, festivals, public demonstrations, and political speeches. The city of Grand Rapids has incorporated the piece into the city's flag, street signs, and logo.
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