History of Modern Sculpture
Traditional painting and sculpture consisted of mostly allegorical and religious figurative works that did not reflect the changing quality of life during this newly industrialized period. Modern artists aimed to instead create a purely aesthetic art that referred only to its own existence as opposed to objects in the real world. In sculpture, this aim translated into less realistic approaches to figuration and eventually into pure abstraction. Sculptors from different movements each had their own take on this new subject matter, but the idea of creating art for art’s sake was prevalent throughout their works. Modern sculptural traditions still influence contemporary artists, resulting in minimalist styles and large abstract public works.
Modern Sculpture Techniques
Sculpture paralleled corresponding modernist painting movements. Impressionist sculptors, for example, created works characterized by rough textures similar to those of rapid Impressionist brushstrokes. Cubist sculpture demonstrated a play with multiple perspectives and flattened planes and shapes, while Constructivist works highlighted the actual mediums, like metal and glass, used to create the sculpture. Later modernist movements saw a move away from studio practices to that of the readymade and found object. Many Dada and Surrealist sculptures are composed of objects, like high heels, bicycle wheels, and coat racks, that artists found, arranged, and recontextualized as works of art. Other movements associated with modern sculptures include geometric abstraction, suprematism, futurism, and abstract expressionism.
Artists Known For Modern Sculpture
Auguste Rodin is often considered to be the first modern sculptor, known for his mottled bronze sculptures like “The Thinker” (1902) and “The Kiss” (1882). Paul Gauguin made modern clay sculptures inspired by his travels to Tahiti. His work “Oviri” is a small full-length portrait. Pablo Picasso played with perspective and depth in his Cubist construction “Guitar” (1912). Constantin Brancusi is known for his highly polished and abstract bronze works like “Beginning of the World” (1924). Other famous modern sculptures include Impressionist Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen” (1922), Surrealist Alberto Giacometti’s “Woman with Her Throat Cut” (1932), and Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (1917). Other modern sculptors include Umberto Boccioni, Aristide Maillol, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Kurt Schwitters, Alexander Calder, Vladimir Tatlin, Salvador Dali, Meret Oppenheim, Jacob Epstein, and Aleksandr Rodchenko.