Born in 1898 to an accomplished and artistic Philadelphia family, the late Alexander "Sandy" Calder became one of the most celebrated and influential sculptors of the 20th century. From Sunday, August 1, 1999, through February 1, 2000, the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be home to Calder's bright red, 40-foot high Eagle, a "stabile," or standing sculpture, made by Calder in 1971. Eagle is on loan to the City of Philadelphia courtesy of the Calder Foundation, which was established in 1987 to preserve his remarkable legacy.
"Mayor Rendell and I are thrilled to welcome this dynamic contribution to Philadelphia's visual fabric. With the arrival of Alexander Calder's Eagle, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway finds itself graced by the transforming imprint of three generations of the Calder family," said Diane Dalto, First Deputy City Representative for Arts and Culture. "In the late 1880s, Calder's grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, designed the entire sculpture program for City Hall, including the great bronze figure of William Penn that crowns its tower. His son, Alexander Stirling Calder, created the lyrical Swan Fountain for Logan Circle in 1924."
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Eagle joins Calder's Ghost (1964), an ethereal, 34-foot long mobile that floats above the Museum's Great Stair Hall. "Calder was inspired to create Ghost by the all-white interior of the Guggenhein Museum in New York, and was delighted when Ghost found a permanent home at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is suspended within range of a great window offering a clear view of his father's and grandfather's works, which mark the Benjamin Franklin Parkway's midpoint at Logan Circle, and its origin at City Hall," notes Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Now, and through the winter, Eagle takes its place amidst this remarkable axis of the Calder family's creativity."
From July 30 through November 29, 1998, three monumental sculptures by the late British sculptor, Henry Moore, were presented on the Museum's East Terrace as part of Henry Moore: A Centennial Salute; An Exhibition in Celebration of Philip I. Berman. A successful project that met with great critical approval and public interest, Henry Moore: A Centennial Salute demonstrated the spectacular possibilities for short-term installation of sculpture on the Terrace, and established a wonderful precedent for the temporary loan of Calder's Eagle.
Eagle also signifies Philadelphia's ongoing interest in the possible creation of a Calder Museum in the city, which would display works by the two earlier members of this dynasty of American sculpture, as well as a wealth of sculpture by Alexander Calder himself.
Installation of Calder's Eagle will be supervised by the sculptor's grandsons, Alexander "Sandy" Rower and Holton Rower. Sandy Rower said, "The Calder family and the Calder Foundation are delighted that Eagle will be seen by a large new audience in Philadelphia, where my grandfather was born."