Initially Calder made sculptures from wood and metal wire. Around 1931 he made his first ‘mobiles’, with which his name has been associated ever since: flat plates of metal connected by wire that move in the air. A little later he developed the ‘stabiles’: static constructions of interlocking metal plates. In the 1960s and 1970s Calder produced both stabiles and mobiles at a monumental scale. The majority of his works have biomorphic forms; some represent animals, whether real or imagined. Colour played a central role in Calder’s sculptures, which were painted in a limited palette of the primary colours combined with black and white.
Calder spent the rest of his life between France and America. He died from a heart attack in October 1976, shortly after the opening of his retrospective exhibition, Calder’s Universe, in the Whitney Museum in New York.