In the first decade of our century, American sculpture was almost entirely conservative. Historically, this had always been true; our sculpture had never been as adventurous as our painting; for example, it had produced no parallel to impressionism. Its functions had been chiefly public: monuments and architectural decoration commissioned by official bodies. The classical tradition had hardened into an academic mold. Governed by an idealism that ignored the realities of the modern world, it expressed itself in outworn neoclassic symbols. Sculpture was conceived of as literal representation, a kind of three-dimensional photography.
There were a few exceptions to this formal idealism. The realism of the Eight had some counterparts in sculpture. Mahonri Young's laborers and prize fighters had a refreshing sense of reality. The life of the masses was pictured by Charles Haag and