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Little Clown, the Trumpeteer, from Calder’s Circus


Alexander Calder, Little Clown, the Trumpeteer, from Calder’s Circus, 1926–31. Wire, cloth, paint, yarn, thread, rhinestone buttons, electrical tape, rubber tubing, and metal horn, 12 × 3 1/2 × 3 in. (30.5 × 8.9 × 7.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from a public fundraising campaign in May 1982. One half of the funds were contributed by the Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Charitable Trust. Additional major donations were given by The Lauder Foundation, the Robert Lehman Foundation Inc., the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation Inc., an anonymous donor, The T.M. Evans Foundation Inc., MacAndrews & Forbes Group Incorporated, the De Witt Wallace Fund Inc., Martin and Agneta Gruss, Anne Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Laurance S. Rockefeller, the Simon Foundation Inc., Marylou Whitney, Bankers Trust Company, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth N. Dayton, Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz, Irvin and Kenneth Feld, Flora Whitney Miller. More than 500 individuals from 26 states and abroad also contributed to the campaign  83.36.8a-d
© 2009 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photograph © Whitney Museum of American Art
The Little Clown’s feet are made of electrical tape and have a rubber tube inserted into the heels and through the inside of the clown’s body. The open end sticks slightly out of his face. During the performance, Calder attached a balloon to the open end of the tube. When he blew into the heel end of the tube, the air inflated, making it look like the clown was blowing up the balloon. Sometimes Calder would smoke a cigarette and blow the smoke through the tube, so it seemed like the clown was smoking too!
A Real Clown Talks about Calder’s Little Clown and What it’s Like to be one
Clown (Little Clown the Trumpeteer)
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Little Clown the Trumpeteer and Bearded Lady from Calder’s CircusPlay
Little Clown the Trumpeteer and Bearded Lady
Excerpt from Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927 (1955). 16mm, color, sound (French); 45 min. Directed by Jean Painlevé with Geneviève Hamon, assistant; cinematography by Claude Beausoleil; sound direction by Freddy Baume. Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927 is in the archives of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris, under the directorship of Brigitte Berg.

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