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Modernism

Jan - 11 - 2013
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800px-Henry_Moore_Double_OvalThe modern sculpture movement can be said to begin at the Rodin exhibit at the Universal Exhibition held in Paris in 1900. At this event Rodin showed his Burghers of Calais, Balzac, Victor Hugo statues, and the exhibition included the first public showing of his Gates of Hell which included The Thinker.
Cubist sculpture in the early years of the 20th century, was a style that developed in parallel with cubist painting, and the formal experiments of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Beginning around 1909 and evolving through the early 1920s cubist artists developed new means of constructing works of art using collage, sculptural assemblage using disparate materials and traditional sculpture making from plaster and clay molds. Some sources name Picasso’s 1909 bronze Head of a Woman as the first cubist sculpture. [8] Artists like Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918), whose career was cut short by his death in military service, and Alexander Archipenko, who’d arrived in Paris in 1908 and whose 1912 Walking Woman were very quick to follow Braque and Picasso’s lead. Joseph Csaky, a sculptor from Hungary, exhibited his first cubist sculptures in Paris in 1911. Duchamp-Villon, Jacques Lipchitz, Henri Laurens and Ossip Zadkine and others joined the earlier cubist sculptors.
In the early days of the 20th century, during his period of cubist innovation, Pablo Picasso revolutionized the art of sculpture when he began creating his constructions fashioned by combining disparate objects and materials into one constructed piece of sculpture; Picasso reinvented the art of sculpture with his innovative use of constructing a work in three dimensions with disparate material, the sculptural equivalent of the collage in two dimensional art. Just as collage was a radical development in two dimensional art; so was construction a radical development in three dimensional sculpture. The advent of Surrealism led to things occasionally being described as “sculpture” that would not have been so previously, such as “involuntary sculpture” in several senses, including coulage. In later years Picasso became a prolific potter, leading, with interest in historic pottery from around the world, to a revival of ceramic art, with figures such as George E. Ohr and subsequently Peter Voulkos, Kenneth Price, and Robert Arneson. Marcel Duchamp originated the use of the “found object” (French: objet trouvé) or readymade with pieces such as Fountain (1917).
Similarly, the work of Constantin Brâncuşi at the beginning of the century paved the way for later abstract sculpture. In revolt against the naturalism of Rodin and his late-19th-century contemporaries, Brâncuşi distilled subjects down to their essences as illustrated by the elegantly refined forms of his Bird in Space series (1924). These elegantly refined forms became synonymous with 20th-century sculpture. In 1927, Brâncuşi won a lawsuit against the U.S. customs authorities who attempted to value his sculpture as raw metal. The suit led to legal changes permitting the importation of abstract art free of duty.
Brâncuşi’s impact, with his vocabulary of reduction and abstraction, is seen throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and exemplified by artists such as Gaston Lachaise, Sir Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Ásmundur Sveinsson, Julio González, Pablo Serrano, Jacques Lipchitz and also by the 1940s abstract sculpture was impacted and expanded by Alexander Calder, Len Lye, Jean Tinguely, and Frederick Kiesler who were pioneers of Kinetic art.

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