Sculpture played a dominant role in shaping ancient cultures. However, in the 17th century, interest in this art was somewhat lost only to be regained in the 19th and 20th century. Most notably, the 20th century artists redefined and reworked this art in a more profound way than it had been done before. Fundamental paradigms were established as part of the revolution of sculpture and this new generation not only reinvented the past, but also wrote its own history.
Auguste Rodin is arguably one of the central figures who ushered in modern sculpture. His artistic heritage is characterized by the rise of complex avant-garde. His works inspired many sculptors who went ahead to recreate stories of their own. The following are some of the artists who blew a fresh breath into the soul of the 20th century sculpture.
Brancusi is one of the notable figures in the world of sculpture in the 20th century. He is Romanian born and his works were focused on sculptors that exemplified archetypical and ideal representations which blended timelessness and modernity.
His sculptures were sleek in appearance and visionary aimed at revealing hidden truths. He is recognized as the pioneer of the direct carving technique. His choice of material included stone, wood, metal, marble, and bronze.
This artist is famed for his biomorphic sculptures which were made from stone, bronze, and plaster. As a versatile artist whose works dominated the opening years of the 20th century, he expressed himself through drawings, poems, collages, and paintings. His sculptures which were characterized by wavy lines were fondly referred to as the organic obstruction.
These sculptures represented human figures or plants and were firmly rooted in nature. His biomorphic forms inspired and influenced generations of abstract artists.
Drawing from her childhood fascination with textures and organic systems, Barbara Hepworth grew up to be one of the significant British sculptors of the 20th century. Her focus was on space and volume and this was evident in her abstract works which oftentimes comprised creations with hollow interior spaces that disrupted smooth surfaces textures.
Initially, Hepworth was preoccupied with wood and stone carving but in the 1950s, she added bronze sculpturing as well. This made her works to gain a much more visibility as her sculpting evolved from biomorphic forms to pure abstraction.
Famous for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures, Henry Moore is the most celebrated British sculptor of the 20th century. At different times of his life, he received inspirations from different areas. For instance, in his early work, he was largely influenced by non-western art and later in his career his inspirations came from leading modernists including Brancusi, Giacometti, and Picasso.
His fascination with nature and landscape helped him draw analogies between the landscape and the human body through the use of abstract forms. His recurring motifs were the reclining figure and the mother and child. Initially, Moore used modeling and casting, but later abandoned it in favor of direct carving technique.
Bourgeois is a French born American painter, printmaker, and sculptor who is also recognized as the founder of confessional art. Most of her symbolic drawings and objects depicted themes of conflict, loneliness, vulnerability, and frustration. This artist draws her inspiration from the traumatic psychological events of her childhood particularly her father’s infidelity.
Most of her creations revolved around themes of sexual desire and the body. This placed her on a unique platform because women at the time were rarely known to be explicit in sexual matters. Her pieces portrayed cages, spiders, spirals, medical tools, as well as sewn appendages to depict the feminine beauty, psyche, and psychological pain. Her deep exploration of the subject of femininity and masculinity has served as an inspiration for lots of artists since the 1970s.