Alexander Calder was born to a family of sculptors. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder (1846-1923), studied with Thomas Eakins and is famous for the elaborate sculptural decorations of Philadelphia's City Hall. Calder himself had studied to be an engineer at the Stevens Institute of Technology before attending the Art Students League in New York. Like many aspiring artists of his generation, Calder then spent time in Paris where he was inspired by Joan Miró's work and absorbed the playfulness of Dada. Indeed, it was the French artist Marcel Duchamp who christened Calder's hanging sculptures "mobiles." For works such as this one, Calder cut sheet metal into various shapes and assembled these elements in a chain-linked system so that the flat metal pieces move in response to currents of air.This particular mobile was included in the 1942 exhibition "Artists for Victory" at the Metropolitan where the sculpture committee awarded it a prize and recommended it be added to the collection.