Skip to main content

Circus Character

Alexander calder made this work after visiting the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in 1925. He recycled everyday objects such as bottle caps, corks, and buttons to create his own "big top" stars. When he traveled, calder carried his circus in suitcases and performed it for friends in Europe and the U.S. calder acted out a story with his figures, while his audience sat on bleachers and ate peanuts as if they were at a real circus!

Head to your kitchen with a grown-up. Find five small objects. Use items such as rubber bands, twist ties, or tape to combine these objects and create your own circus character. Perform a circus show for your family.

See all Whitney Kids Art Challenges.

Installation view of The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 28, 2019- ). Alexander Calder, Calder’s Circus, 1926-31. Photograph by Ron Amstutz



A 30-second online art project:
LaTurbo Avedon, Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror

Learn more

All visitors aged 12 and older must show proof they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for admission to the Whitney, in accordance with NYC requirements. Visitors aged 18 and older will also be asked to show photo ID. Face coverings are required for all visitors. Learn more about the Whitney’s safety guidelines.