20th Century Sculptors
List of Twentieth Century Plastic Artists: Europe, America.

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Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988)
Jeff Koons

EVOLUTION OF SCULPTURE
For the origins of the plastic arts
see: History of Sculpture.

BEST WORKS OF SCULPTURE
For the top 3-D artworks, see:
Greatest Sculptures Ever.

BEST SCULPTORS
See: Greatest Sculptors.

Twentieth Century Sculpture

Contents

Age of Cubism: 1900-1925
Age of Surrealism: 1925-1960
Pop-Art and Postmodernism: 1960-present
List of 20th Century Sculptors
Abstract Sculptors: Top 70

Age of Cubism: 1900-1925

During the early decades of the 20th century Cubism swept away many of the hallowed principles of traditional plastic art, and triggered a wave of experimentation in sculpture. Representational art was rejected in favour of new abstract expressions of space and movement, typically using non-traditional materials never previously used. World War I (1914-18) and the 1917 Russian Revolution were also important influences, triggering movements like Dada and Constructivism. Modern artists began producing works of art - made with found objects (eg. Duchamp's "readymades", Schwitters' "Merz" collages) - which also reflected new icons like the machine, as well as new design concepts.

20TH CENTURY ART
For modern portraitists, see:
Portrait Artists: Twentieth Century.
For modern painters of Ireland, see:
Irish Artists: Twentieth Century.
For a brief survey of art, see:
Irish Art: Twentieth Century.
For contemporary styles, schools,
see: Contemporary Art Movements.

 

Age of Surrealism: 1925-1960

In the mid-20s Surrealism replaced Dada, becoming a hugely influential movement which encompassed geometric abstraction, as well as classical realism. Other 20th century sculptors were exploring new forms of organic abstraction, while mobile sculpture and kinetic motion was pioneered on both sides of the Atlantic.

After World War II, no school of sculpture emerged either in New York or Paris to compare with the leading painting style of Abstract Expressionism, although there was considerable originality, mainly in the use of new materials and a growing mood of conceptualism. Assemblage art emerged, often made from industrial junk, as did multi-media works combining painting, collage, sculpture and other forms of modern art.

Pop-Art and Postmodernism: 1960-present

The first major post-war movement involving sculpture, was Pop-Art, which originated in the late 1950s and lasted until the early 1970s. It acted as the bridge between Modernist and Postmodernist art. Pop sculpture wasn't serious but it was great fun - unlike 1960s Minimalism which explored the purity of form to the point of absurdity. The 1960s also saw a new type of sculpture known as Environmental art, in which postmodernist artists excavated the natural landscape to create (what they hoped was) art.

By 1970, contemporary art, including sculpture, was becoming more and more experimental. Often it crossed over into other forms of art such as installation, assemblage art and theatre. Art historians refer to this post-1970 era as "postmodernism", although few commentators seem to know the precise meaning of the term. (See also: American Sculptors).

 

List of 20th Century Sculptors

Twentieth century sculpture has been dominated by the following artists.

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
French artist noted for his sensuous but classical female nude statues.
Oliver Sheppard (1865-1941)
Eminent Irish sculptor, best known for his bronze sculpture idealizing the Irish struggle for independence.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
One of the major references of avant-garde art from the beginning of the twentieth century, noted (in his plastic art) for statues, figurines and low-reliefs.
Ernst Barlach (1870-1938)
Powerful expressionist works include Blind Beggar and Russian Beggar-woman with Bowl.
Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918)
Member of a group of Cubists including Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Roger de la Frenaye, Henri le Fauconnier and Fernand Leger. Like the Futurists, Duchamp-Villon used Cubist devices to represent movement and the dynamism of modern life.
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
Highly-skilled craftsman, influenced by African art as well as Oriental art, searching for pure form.
James Earle Fraser (1876-1953)
American artist best known for his sculptures of Native Americans and historical figures, including Alexander Hamilton and Theodore Roosevelt. An early Fraser masterpiece is The End of the Trail, a statue of a weary Native American on horseback.
Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973)
One of the masters of naturalistic animal sculpture, her statues - both life-sized and in smaller proportions - are in museums and art collections across the United States.
Jacob Epstein (1880–1959)
Bohemian American-born British sculptor whose Rock Drill (1913) astounded many, as did Adam (1938) and other controversial works in bronze and marble.
A pioneer of Modern British sculpture (1930-70).
Wilhelm Lehmbruck (1881-1919)
Greatest German expressionist sculptor. Noted for Kneeling Woman (1911).
Albert Power (1881-1945)
Academic realist, leading sculptor in Ireland during the 1920s and 1930s.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Creative genius noted for the three-dimensional attributes of his paintings, as well as his sculptures, his range embraced ceramics, theatrical designs and decorative sculpture.
Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916)
Leading member of the Futurist movement; co-signed the Manifesto of Futurist Painting in February 1910 with Carlo Cana, Luigi Russolo, Gino Severini and Giacomo Balla; wrote the Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture in 1912.
Henri Laurens (1885-1954)
French sculptor, printmaker, designer and illustrator, noted for his voluptuous nudes and later outstanding figurative work as well as his Cubist "constructions", of wood and polychrome plaster.
Jean Arp (1886-1966)
Founder member of Abstraction-Creation, known for organic forms in bronze or marble.
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
German Dada artist renowned for his extraordinary "Merzbau" sculpture and collage art.
Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Ukrainian-American Cubist sculptor noted for use of "negative space".
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
One of the most innovative artists of the 20th century, painter/sculptor, member of Cubist Section d'Or group, noted for "readymades", along with works like Nude Descending a Staircase (1911-12), and the urinal entitled Fountain (1917).
Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943)
Swiss designer, Dada artist, Bauhaus follower, wife of Jean Arp, now seen as one of the pioneers of non-objective art.
Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967)
Avant-garde artist, influenced by Cubism; used dramatically expressive forms; noted for his masterpiece To a Destroyed City (1953).
Naum Gabo (1890-1977)
Pioneer of 20th century kinetic sculpture; one of the most influential exponents of Constructivism, and a pioneer of concrete art.
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)
Short-lived genius, influenced by Rodin; perhaps the most outstanding sculptor of his generation.
Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973)
Lithuanian-born avant-garde Cubist sculptor. Perhaps the greatest figure in modern Russian sculpture. Worked in Paris (1909-40), thereafter in America.
Joan Miro (1893-1983)
Long-lived Spanish artist turned to sculpture in 1944 (terracottas, ceramics, bronzes).
Ben Nicholson (1894-1982)
British abstract sculptor, noted for his shallow reliefs.
Katarzyna Kobro (1898-1951)
Regarded as one of the most outstanding female Polish sculptors of the first half of the 20th century, she is is noted for her early Cubist nude studies and abstract kinetic forms hanging in space.
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Inventor of sculptural "mobiles" made of wire and pieces of wood, a form of kinetic art. His genius changed these ordinary materials into abstract universes.
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Abstract sculptor, master-carver; influenced by ancient art, Giotto's and Masaccio's frescoes; noted for his natural organic forms. Without doubt the greatest ever English sculptor.
Louise Nevelson (1899-1988)
Russian-born American sculptor, renowned for her abstract wooden assemblages and "sculptured walls."
Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Swiss artist, famous for his "existential art", especially his emaciated figurative sculpture.
Marino Marini (1901-80)
One of the foremost Italian sculptors of the 20th century, Italian artist, noted for his series of nudes and portrait busts as well as his signature equestrian sculptures.
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Avant-garde French artist, fascinated by Art Brut noted for sculptures made from junk materials.
Richmond Barthe (1901-1989)
Most famous works include the Toussaint L'Quverture Monument in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; the Walls of Jericho in Harlem; and the garden sculpture for the Edgar Kaufman house.
Barbara Hepworth DBE (1903-1975)
With Henry Moore, the most important figures in the development of 20th century British abstract sculpture. Noted for Single Form, the United Nations memorial to Dag Hammarskjold.
David Smith (1906-1965)
The most influential and original American sculptor of the pre-war generation, famous for his abstract compositions of different metals and junk materials, once described as "3-D metal calligraphy."
Seamus Murphy (1907-1975)
Irish traditional stone sculptor; Cork's greatest master-carver.
FE McWilliam (1909-1992)
Surrealist sculptor of Northern Ireland, best known for his 1970s Women of Belfast series.
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
Known for surrealist works symbolizing feminist themes.
Tony Smith (1912-81)
American abstract sculptor.
Meret Oppenheim (1913-85)
German-Swiss artist, remembered for her surrealist masterpiece Object (1936), a fur-lined tea-cup and saucer.
Cesar Baldaccini (1921-1998)
Achieved a scandalous success and international notoriety with the sculptures made from crushed cars, exhibited at the Salon de Mai in 1960.
Pol Bury (1922-2005)
Former surrealist, influenced by Rene Magritte and Yves Tanguy, became one of the leading twentieth-century exponents of kinetic or moving sculpture.
Nandor Glid (1924-97)
Renowned for his highly expressive holocaust sculpture.
Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005)
British sculptor, printmaker, collage artist, one of the pioneers of Pop-Art. Noted for his large scale abstract sculptures.
Sir Anthony Caro (1924-2013)
One of the most influential sculptors in post-war British art.
Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)
Swiss sculptor and experimental artist, famous for his auto-destructive works - like Homage to New York (1960) - which linked kinetic and performance art.
Duane Hanson (1925-96)
Surrealist/Pop Art, photorealist American sculptor, renowned for his highly detailed, life-size figures made from fibreglass resin, such as Tourists (1970).
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)
American painter, sculptor, multi-media artist, pioneer of Pop-Art, renowned for his "Combines", collages and assemblages.
Takis (Panayiotis Vassilakis) (b.1925)
Greek experimental artist, pioneer of kinetic sculpture.
Andy Warhol
(1928-87)
Known for his sculptures of boxes of Brillo soap pads.
Donald Judd (1928-94)
Greatest American abstract sculptor of the late twentieth century.
Arman (1928-2005)
Founding member of the 1960s Nouveaux Realistes group of artists in Paris, noted for his assemblages of junk material.
Sol LeWitt (1928-2007)
American sculptor, leading exponent of Minimalism, noted for his geometric skeletal structures.
Claes Oldenburg (b.1929)
Leading Pop-Art sculptor, best known for his colossal sculptures of everyday objects, such as lipsticks, cigarette butts and hamburgers.
Edward Delaney (1930-2009)
Bronze King & Queen sold in 2009 for €190,000, a world record price for Irish sculpture.
Magdalena Abakanowicz (b.1930)
The Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz broke down traditional barriers between textiles and sculpture.
Jasper Johns (b.1930)
New York painter, sculptor, multi-media artists, early exponent of Pop-Art. Sculpted everyday objects like beer cans, brushes in coffee can.
Marisol (Maria Sol Escobar) (b.1930)
Influenced by folk art, her metal and wood figurative sculptures, typically arranged in groups, were shown at the influential Art of Assemblage exhibition, at MoMA Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Niki de Saint-Phalle (1930-2002)
French avant-garde self-taught artist, member of Paris-based Nouveaux Realistes group of artists, known for her 1960s "shot-reliefs" - relief assemblages of found materials.

Note About Sculpture Appreciation
To learn how to evaluate 20th century modernist and contemporary sculptors, see: How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture. For earlier works, please see: How to Appreciate Sculpture.

Robert Morris (b.1931)
American sculptor, painter, Performance and experimental artist, noted for his "anti-form" art. A pioneer of Minimal art and "felt" sculpture.
Fernando Botero (b.1932)
Columbian artist, known for his obese inflated figures; focused on sculpture since 1970s; noted for the Broadgate Venus London and the giant male cat in Barcelona.
Mark Di Suvero (b.1933)
American abstract expressionist sculptor famous for his large scale iron/steel public sculptures. Responsible for large number of public commissions throughout the world.
Carl Andre (b.1935)
One of the best-known artists associated with the Minimalist movement of the 1970s.
Walter de Maria (b.1935)
Minimalist sculptor noted for his simple geometric compositions made from industrially manufactured materials like aluminium/stainless steel; his work Cage was included in the seminal 1966 "Primary Structures" exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York. Also active in Environmental art, and is noted for The Lightning Field (1977).
Richard Serra (b.1939)
Pupil of ex-Bauhaus teacher Joseph Albers, best known for his monumental public works made from steel and other industrial materials. Most famous works include Tilted Arc (1981), and The Matter of Time (2004) (located at the Guggenheim Bilbao).
Bruce Nauman (b.1941)
American postmodernist artist, known for his "interactive" sculpture/video installations.
John De Andrea (b.1941)
American superrealist sculptor known for his life-size ultra-realistic nude figures.
Giuseppe Pen One (b.1947)
Challenging Italian postmodernist sculptor who uses natural materials to try and integrate the human and natural worlds.
Antony Gormley (b.1950)
Versatile British sculptor, Turner Prize winner, best known for his colossal public sculpture Angel of the North (1998).
Rowan Gillespie (b.1953)
Greatest figurative sculptor in the history of Irish plastic art.
Anish Kapoor (b.1954)
India-born British abstract sculptor, winner of Turner Prize, noted for large-scale works in rough hewn stone, cast metal and stainless steel.
Jeff Koons (b.1955)
Like the late Andy Warhol, a highly controversial but world famous artist, best known for his monumental kitsch-style sculptures.
Damien Hirst (b.1965)
Postmodernist sculptor, installation artist, Turner Prize winner, leader of the Young British Artists movement. One of the most successful artists of the 20th century.

• For the history and types of sculpture, see: Homepage.
• For the evolution and development of the visual arts, see: History of Art.


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