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He also took a job illustrating for the , which sent him to the Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus to sketch circus scenes for two weeks in 1925.
Calder's renderings of his circus often lasted about two hours and were quite elaborate.
Indeed, the predated performance art by forty years.
Calder committed to becoming an artist shortly thereafter, and in 1923 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League.
For three weeks following this visit, he created solely abstract paintings, only to discover that he did indeed prefer sculpture to painting. So I sent them another dollar and told them, “Look again.” They corroborated the first statement., in Philadelphia. (Calder 1966, 13) Spring: Stirling Calder contracts tuberculosis. (Calder 1966, 15; Hayes 1977, 18) End of March: Nanette picks up Calder and Peggy and they rejoin their father in Oracle.
Soon after, he was invited to join Abstraction-Création, an influential group of artists (including Jean Arp, Mondrian, and Jean Hélion) with whom he had become friendly. Calder's parents move to a ranch in Oracle, Arizona, leaving Calder and his sister Peggy in the care of Dr. Calder befriends Riley, an elderly man recuperating at the ranch who shows him "how to make a wigwam out of burlap bags pinned together with nails." (Calder 1966, 16) Fall: The Calders move to Pasadena, California.
Calder worked for several years after graduation at various jobs, including as a hydraulics and automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship's boiler room.
While serving in the latter occupation, on a ship from New York bound for San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck to see both a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon; each was visible on opposite horizons (the ship then lay off the Guatemalan coast).