As a young man, in Paris in the 1920s, Alexander Calder turned from his pursuit of an engineering degree to creating small figures from wire, leather, cloth, and other found materials. He enjoyed creating wire sculpture, and began to fashion portraits of his friends and public figures of the day.
The public was taken by the inventive works, and soon they were being exhibited in New York, Paris, and Berlin. Calder met and worked with many leading modern artists, and tells a story that, one day while visiting the studio of Piet Mondrian, he was struck 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. For three weeks following this visit, he created solely abstract paintings, only to discover that he did indeed prefer sculpture to painting. Soon after, he was invited to join Abstraction-Création, an influential group of artists.” Calder moved toward complete abstraction in his mobiles, stabiles, and paintings from that moment on. The suite of lithographs in the exhibit, La Mémoire Élémentaire, is a perfect example of that which made Alexander Calder famous; his sense of line and color.