Paper costumes for A Nightmare Side Show, one of thirteen group processions performed during Paper Ball: Le Cirque des Chiffonniers, First Hartford Festival, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, 15 February 1936 Standing, left to right: André Masson, Kay Sage, and Calder; sitting, left to right: André Breton, Susanna Perkins Hare, Louisa Calder, Rose Masson, Diego Masson, Charlie Prescott, Mary Calder, and Teeny Matisse, Roxbury, 1941 Alexander Calder was born in 1898, the second child of artist parents—his father was a sculptor and his mother a painter.Because his father, Alexander Stirling Calder, received public commissions, the family traversed the country throughout Calder's childhood.
He also took a job illustrating for the , which sent him to the Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus to sketch circus scenes for two weeks in 1925.
Calder worked for several years after graduation at various jobs, including as a hydraulics and automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship's boiler room.
While serving in the latter occupation, on a ship from New York bound for San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck to see both a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon; each was visible on opposite horizons (the ship then lay off the Guatemalan coast).
Calder found he enjoyed working with wire for his circus.