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Calder was encouraged to create, and from the age of eight he always had his own workshop wherever the family lived.
For Christmas in 1909, Calder presented his parents with two of his first sculptures, a tiny dog and duck cut from a brass sheet and bent into formation.
The experience made a lasting impression on Calder: he would refer to it throughout his life.
Calder committed to becoming an artist shortly thereafter, and in 1923 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League.
In October of 1930, Calder visited the studio of Piet Mondrian in Paris and was deeply impressed by a wall of colored paper rectangles that Mondrian continually repositioned for compositional experiments.
He recalled later in life that this experience "shocked" him toward total abstraction. Produced, directed, and written by Robert Pierce; narrated by Lary Lewman; production manager, Mark Muheim, assistant camera/sound, Zack Krieger. Thirteen/WNET and Florentine Films/Roger Sherman Pictures, New York. Produced and directed by Roger Sherman; written by Thomas Mc Namee; narrated by Tovan Feldshuh, music by Teese Gohl.
Even at age eleven, his facility in handling materials was apparent.
Calder found he enjoyed working with wire for his circus.
He soon began to sculpt from this material many portraits of his friends and public figures of the day.
Every piece was small enough to be packed into a large trunk, enabling the artist to carry it with him and hold performances anywhere.
Its first performance was held in Paris for an audience of friends and peers, and soon Calder was presenting the circus in both Paris and New York to much success.
Word traveled about the inventive artist, and in 1928 Calder was given his first solo gallery show at the Weyhe Gallery in New York.