Hallmark Art Collection


Art Collection


Alexander Calder

(American, 1898-1976)
Shiva, 1965

painted steel, 216 x 192 x 264 inches

In a career that spanned six decades, Alexander Calder proved to be one of the most inventive artists of the 20th century. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1898, the son of sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, well known for his civic monuments. As a child Calder was much encouraged in his creativity, often working near his father in his own studio. The young Calder eventually studied mechanical engineering and art before moving to Paris in the 1920s. There he befriended many leading European artists of the day and became a potent force in the development of abstract art. Although he eventually settled in Connecticut, Calder maintained a second studio in France much of his life.

Alexander Calder’s experiments with unorthodox materials led him to to invent the “mobile,” a term that Marcel Duchamp gave to Calder’s kinetic sculptures, such as those that hang freely from the ceiling. Hans Arp coined the phrase “stabile” for his non-kinetic sculptures, some of which are monumental in scale. Created in 1965, Shiva is one of Calder’s best known stabiles. It was acquired by Hallmark in 1974 for public display in the new Crown Center campus where it now stands as a Kansas City landmark. Measuring 18 feet high and 22 feet long, Shiva is painted in “Calder Red,” a signature hue that imparts a fiery glow to the sculpture at various times of day.

Calder’s sculptures are characterized by a dynamic nature that often suggests real or mythical creatures. Although rather abstract in shape, from different angles Shiva suggests hybrid animal forms. Calder did not explain his work in any detail, preferring to leave his art open to individual interpretation. However, the title likely refers to the Hindu deity Shiva, who is sometimes depicted with multiple arms or encircled by flames. In the Hindu language, the word shiva (pronounced “shee-vuh”) means “the auspicious.”

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