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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Eagle

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
© Benjamin Benschneider

The Eagle


Alexander Calder

American, 1898 - 1976

A third-generation American sculptor, Alexander Calder studied mechanical engineering before studying art. In the 1920s-1930s while in Paris, he developed two distinctive genres of sculpture: mobiles, or sculptures that move, and stabiles, which are stationary. Eagle, created at a time when Calder was recognized as one of the world's greatest sculptors, reveals the artist's distinctive combination of pragmatism and poetry. Architectural in its construction and scale, Eagle displays its curving wings, assertive stance, and pointy beak in a form that is weightless, colorful and abstract.

Alexander Calder was born in Lawton, Pennsylvania and moved to New York in 1923, attending the Art Students League, and traveled repeatedly to Paris, where he first exhibited his work in 1927. Calder retrospectives have been presented at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943, the Guggenheim Museum, New York in 1964 and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1976. Calder was awarded the Gold Medal for Sculpture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1971, the year he created Eagle.

Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.

Painted steel
465 x 390 x 390 in. (1181.1 x 990.6 x 990.6cm); estimated weight 6 tons
Gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Provenance: Commissioned from artist by Fort Worth National Bank, Texas; Bank One, Fort Worth, Texas; Loutex, Fort Worth, Texas; private collection; purchased by Seattle Art Museum with funds from Jon and Mary Shirley, Seattle, Washington, 2000
Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
Now on view at the Olympic Sculture Park

How does art come into being? Out of volumes, motion, spaces carved out within the surrounding space, the universe.

Alexander Calder


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act, Oct. 15, 2009 - Apr. 11, 2010.
Published ReferencesCorrin, Lisa Graziose et al. "Olympic Sculpture Park." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, illus. pp. 8, 29

Ishikawa, Chiyo, ed. "A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum." Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, illus. p. 94-95

Kangas, Matthew, "Sculpture", October 2007, Vol 26, No. 8

"Seattle Art Museum: Bridging Cultures." London: Scala Publishers Ltd. for the Seattle Art Museum, 2007, pp. 76-77, illus. p. 76

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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