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Impressionist & Modern Sculptures

Much of modern sculpture is made up of the Impressionist style. And while Impressionist paintings can be seen as part of an easily defined, distinct movement, the same cannot be said for Impressionist sculpture. The goal of Impressionist painting was to capture a fleeting moment through loose brushwork and vibrant colors, which is difficult if not impossible to achieve with sculpture.

Although rarely referred to as an Impressionist artist, Rodin was a contemporary of Impressionists much like Monet and Degas. The rough, unfinished forms and textures of his sculptures created a raw appearance that many say is representative of the Impressionist painting style. Rodin is therefore seen by many as the father of early modern sculpture.

Like other forms of modern art, sculpture developed from several movements that sought to criticize the traditional limitations of Western art. It was because of Rodin's departure from smooth, precise realism in favor of slight distortion that sculpture began to evolve into more abstract forms in the early 1900s and can be seen in the works of artists Constantin Brancusi and Henri Moore. This evolution gave way to other types of modern sculpture including assemblages and mobiles.

Quick Facts

  • Rodin's exhibition of "Burghers of Calais," "Balzac," and "Gates of Hell" at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle is widely believed to have marked the beginning of the modern sculptural movement
  • Upon Degas' death in 1917, more than 150 works of sculpture were found in his studio
  • Many sculptural movements developed as a result of the development of modernism. These include Art Nouveau, De Stijl, Dadaism, Futurism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism

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