Calder: The Conquest of Time: The Early Years: 1898-1940
Multi-volume biographies leave me worried when I read them. Honestly, very few people deserve multi-volume biographies, and sadly this person is not one of them and it shows. Jed Perl examines the life and times of American sculptor Alexander Calder, whom Mr. Perl thinks is the best sculptor we ever had. I am not sure that Mr. Calder deserves a two-volume biography, though, and this book does not help make that case. The work of a good biographer is to pare down the life to the important moments, the moments that had a big impact on the person’s life and career. This book is the exact opposite track, in it we get every little detail, even when he was young, and that is generally when sources are thin for most people. It is a drag to get through the first several chapters because Mr. Perl spends so much time looking at his mother, father, siblings, and other relatives that you often get lost, and when you do get back to Alexander Calder you are a bit lost. I do not doubt Mr. Calder’s art or the impact he had on American sculpting; I feel that this is not the best way to learn about him.