Today is Alexander Calder’s birthday! Calder is one of my favorite artists, which is unusual because I generally hate things whose beauty seems to be hidden behind a veil of theory or historical context. His work is exactly the kind of why-is-this-art that I usually despise. I did not find it fascinating or beautiful for a long time. But Calder is the exception for me, and in part it’s because at some point my brain connected the sense of play present in his wire sculptures and stories about him to the mobiles and stabiles that I, frankly, still do not particularly care for. I love Calder the toymaker reaching towards abstraction. I love Calder the ringmaster playing games with time. I love Calder the engineer, Calder the imaginary, and Calder the curmudgeon. So happy birthday Calder! And if you’re in DC, go to the Calder room today.