Modern Art in America

By Martha Candler Cheney | Go to book overview

10. SCULPTURE

SCULPTURE differs from the other contemporary arts--painting, architecture, music, and the theater--by reason of its more complete independence from style and period influences of the recent past. Sculptors in all countries have felt the need of restoring to this art its antique and monumental character and, at the same time, of making it the medium for expressing their own direct visual and associative experience. Doing that has involved a general turning away from the apparently permanent ideal of classical Greece.

No such conception would have appeared tenable in recognized American art up to a quarter of a century ago. But the modern sculptors in America, responding to the general impulse of the century's creative energy towards new sources of influence, have been studying the work of the earlier Greeks, the Egyptians, the Orientals; and they have been particularly attracted to the precedent of early native American folk art where it arose through utilitarian craftsmanship to the distinction of a creative expression in its own right. They have also been drawn to the still not completely studied expressions of the pre-Columbian cultures of this hemisphere, north and south.

Gaston Lachaise, a Frenchman who was already working in this country before 1913 and who died in 1935, was one of the pioneers in America of this modern movement. William Zorach is the most prominent contemporary. J. B. Flannagan, Robert Laurent, José de Creeft, Heinz Warneke, Alfeo Faggi, and Polygnotos Vagis are all contributors, each in his own way.

The international movement includes the names of Eric Gill and the American Jew, Jacob Epstein, in London, Constantin Brancusi

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Modern Art in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1. the Beginning of American Modernism 6
  • 2. Backgrounds in European Art 20
  • 3. American Backgrounds 35
  • 4. New Directions After 1913 53
  • 5. the Spirit of Research and Significant Form 72
  • 6. Significant Vision 90
  • 8. the Painters Discover America 120
  • 9. Regionalism in a Broadening View 138
  • 10. Sculpture 151
  • 11. the Meaning of Modernism: A Summary 164
  • Definitions 177
  • Bibliography 181
  • Index 183
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