Alexander Calder

Elephant and Trainer

On view
Floor 7



Painted wood, cloth, rubber tubing, wire, fur, pipe cleaners, cork, and nails

Overall (variable): 12 7/8 × 19 × 11 1/4in. (32.7 × 48.3 × 28.6 cm)

Accession number

Calder's Circus

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from a public fundraising campaign in May 1982. One half 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 DeWitt 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.

Rights and reproductions
© Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Elephant and Trainer are two of the “performers” in Calder’s Circus. The white wooden blocks that form the elephant’s legs are jointed with nails to allow him to rear up, and his trunk and tail are made of rubber tubing. During performances, Alexander Calder would place the elephant’s trunk into a bucket of sawdust, which billowed into the air when Calder blew through the tube that is the elephant’s tail.

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