Cirque de Calder

Calder Circus

I finally got around to seeing The Surreal Calder at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts yesterday. The exhibition would have been dazzling on its own, but I took the 18 minutes it requires to sit in on the accompanying short film Calder’s Circus, a 1961 documentary by Carlos Vilardeb√≥ that shows Calder performing. His circus is astounding — genuinely mind-blowing — consisting of dozens of crefully constructed wire and fabric performers with ingenious mechanical articulations. A bow-legged cowboy twirls through the air onto the back of a galloping steed. A knife-thrower accidentally strikes his female target, who is carried offstage on a gurney, to be immediately replaced by an identical female target. Airialists twirl and fly through the air, leaping back and forth on a trapeeze.

As it turns out, Calder’s Circus is available on YouTube in four parts: One. Two. Three. Four. Enjoy!

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