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