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He met Louisa James (a grandniece of writer Henry James) on one of these steamer journeys and the two were married in January 1931.He also became friendly with many prominent artists and intellectuals of the early twentieth century at this time, including Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, James Johnson Sweeney, and Marcel Duchamp.James Johnson Sweeney, who had become a close friend, wrote the catalogue's preface.Calder also constructed sets for ballets by both Martha Graham and Eric Satie during the 1930s, and continued to give performances.In October of 1930, Calder visited the studio of Piet Mondrian in Paris and was deeply impressed by a wall of colored paper rectangles that Mondrian continually repositioned for compositional experiments.He recalled later in life that this experience "shocked" him toward total abstraction.In the fall of 1931, a significant turning point in Calder's artistic career occurred when he created his first truly kinetic sculpture and gave form to an entirely new type of art.
He instead enrolled at the Stevens Institute of Technology after high school and graduated in 1919 with an engineering degree.
The circus became a lifelong interest of Calder's, and after moving to Paris in 1926, he created his , a complex and unique body of art.
The assemblage included diminutive performers, animals, and props he had observed at the Ringling Bros. Fashioned from wire, leather, cloth, and other found materials, was designed to be manipulated manually by Calder.
Every piece was small enough to be packed into a large trunk, enabling the artist to carry it with him and hold performances anywhere.
Its first performance was held in Paris for an audience of friends and peers, and soon Calder was presenting the circus in both Paris and New York to much success.
The duck is kinetic—it rocks back and forth when tapped.