Alexander Calder

Life Dates:
1898 – 1976
Artist Biography:
Pennsylvania-born Alexander Calder was an American sculptor and artist most famous for inventing the mobile. In addition to mobile and "stabile" sculpture, he also created paintings, lithographs, toys, tapestry and jewelry. He is most well-known in Grand Rapids for creating the much-photographed, infamously orange centerpiece, "La Grand Vitesse", which has become iconic to the city, especially in its association with the annual Festival of the Arts, a festival inspired by Calder himself. LA GRANDE VITESSE: In 1969, Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse was installed in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids in an area now called Calder Plaza. “La Grande Vitesse” is French for “the great swiftness” or, with much appropriateness, “the grand rapids.” This 43-foot tall, vibrant red metal sculpture was commissioned by the City of Grand Rapids and the Kent County Board of Supervisors, and made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.