Calder: at home, among friends

  • Against a black background is a baby brass rattler. It looks to be constructed from a single piece of brass wire, which is looped around itself to make a handle. Extending from it is a circle made of small circles that each have a bell looped through them.

    Alexander Calder, Baby rattle with bells, 1921. Brass wire and bells, 9 1/4 × 4 1/2 × 1/2 inches. Collection of San José Museum of Art. Gift of Megan L. Hayes and Reed Zars in Memory of Margaret Calder Hayes and Kenneth and Janet Gray Hayes, 2022.16.06 © 2024 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of San José Museum of Art. Photo by Johnna Arnold, Impart Photography.

    Opening Celebration: Friday, September 6, 6–9pm
    Member Reception: Friday, September 6, 6–7pm

    During a prolific career of nearly six decades, from early wire portraits to groundbreaking mobiles to later monumental public sculptures, Calder’s artwork epitomized the optimistic spirit of modern America. His rigorous inventiveness was a state of mind and way of being in the world that contained equal parts dynamism and precision. That innovative spirit was echoed in his own home through the ingenious household objects and jewelry that he made throughout his life.

    Drawing on the Museum collection, Calder: at home, among friends celebrates this art historical giant through his intimate objects and gestures, created abundantly and bestowed generously. These smaller works were just as vital to him as monumental public works, though they were often intended for personal use or close friends or relatives. The long-term installation features such works as Big Red (1957), a mobile which Calder gave to his sister to hang in her home while she recovered from an operation; unique jewelry pieces such as a “JG” brooch for Janet Gray Hayes, the artist’s niece and former mayor of San José; and a gouache that Calder gifted to the artist Louise Nevelson. A consummate innovator, Calder’s small-scale objects in this installation speak to a more intimate side of the artist, as he existed at home and among friends.


    Calder: at home, among friends is made possible by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, with major support from Doris and Alan Burgess, Elaine Cardinale, and Rick and Evelyn Neely; and additional support from the Farrington Historical Foundation.

    Operations and programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by principal support from SJMA’s Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, and the Lipman Family Foundation; by lead support from the Adobe Foundation, Toby and Barry Fernald, Brook Hartzell and Tad Freese, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Tammy and Tom Kiely, Kimberly and Patrick Lin, Sally Lucas, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Skyline Foundation, and the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100; and with significant endowment support from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.