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Styles & Periods
20th Century Sculpture

The human figure remained the central subject in sculpture well into the 20th century. However, a radical departure soon occurred, as sculpture stepped down from pedestals, and followed a new path. Henry Moore, Constantine Brancusi and Jean Arp were among the first modern sculptors. These artists increasingly broke away from the naturalistic expression of the work of Auguste Rodin, and worked towards formalized, simplified form. Although best known for his work as a painter, Pablo Picasso contributed richly to sculpture with his assemblages. He collected objects from everyday, such as spoons and bicycle seats, and incorporated them into three-dimensional compositions that challenged the same concerns as his paintings. Marcel Duchamp also established a new relationship to perceived beauty with his ready-mades in 1914. Constructivists in Russia created sculpture that acted more like architecture, making use of the void as a positive space. After World War II, sculpture expanded, in size and in relationship to humans and the environment. Donald Judd and Carl Andre used non-representational modules to articulate space according to geometric schemas. In the 1970s, Earthworks established a postmodern artistic vision that did not depend on galleries and recalled prehistoric forms in the land. Today, Installation Art encompasses trends of Pop Art, Conceptual Art and Video Art and creates articulated spaces that encompass the viewer and bring to bear the new role of sculpture as a part of architecture, much as it was in medieval art.


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