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Georgia Decatur Artist Sculpture


The history of sculpture in the United States reflects the country's 18th century foundation in Roman republican civic values as well as Protestant Christianity, both of which sought truth in the spoken word of orator or minister and neither of which required the visualizaton of magnificence, power, solemnity, or profundity that characterized the sculptural traditions of European (as well as Asian) civilizations.

* 1 Decorative art
* 2 Folk art
* 3 The Italian years
* 4 19th century American women sculptors
* 5 The Paris years
* 6 Home grown
* 7 Wildlife sculptors
* 8 Public monuments
o 8.1 Carving mountains
* 9 Twentieth century
o 9.1 Architectural sculpture
o 9.2 Modern Classicism
o 9.3 American Expressionism
o 9.4 African-American sculptors
o 9.5 The turn toward abstraction
o 9.6 Pushing the boundaries of art
o 9.7 Late 20th century revival of figurative sculpture
o 9.8 Other genres of sculpture
* 10 References

* 11 External links

Decorative art

The art of the silversmith reflected the spiritual values of the prosperous Puritan, and these simple but elegant objects took their place in fashionable homes.

Coffee pot, 1770, Philadelphia, Joseph Richardson (1711-1784)

Sauceboat (1740-1758), Boston, Jacob Hurd (1720-1758)

Folk art

There is always art in well-made tombstones, iron products, furniture, toys, and tools perhaps better reflecting the character of a people than sculptures made in classical styles for social elites.

One of these specific applications, the wooden figureheads for ships, launched the career the country's first famous sculptor, William Rush (1756-1833) of Philadelphia.

Ship's figurehead, artist unknown, c. 1830, Art Institute of Chicago

Preacher, c. 1830, Art Institute of Chicago

William Rush portrait of General Andrew Jackson, 1815, Art Institute of Chicago

The Italian years

In the 1830s, the first generation of notable American sculptors studied and lived in Italy, particularly in Florence and Rome, carving marble in the Italian Neo-Classicism style. They included Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), Hiram Powers 1805-1873, Thomas Crawford, and (somewhat later) William Henry Rinehart (1825 - 1874).

Hiram Powers portrait of Potter Palmer, 1871, Art Institute of Chicago

Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), Abdiel 1838-43

[edit] 19th century American women sculptors

American women also became active sculptors during the Italian Period despite the sexism of the age. Among them were Harriet Hosmer and Emma Stebbins (the Bethesda Fountain in New York's Central Park).

Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908), Zenobia Queen of Palmyra, 1857, Art Institute of Chicago

[edit] The Paris years

In the following decades, American sculptors more often went to Paris to study falling in with the more naturalistic and dramatic style exemplified by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-1875) and Antoine-Louis Barye (1796-1875). Among them were Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Daniel Chester French, and John Quincy Adams Ward.

Freedman, 1862, John Quincy Adams Ward (1830-1910)

The Daniel Chester French sculpture at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Daniel Chester French, Lincoln (detail), 1916, Art Institute of Chicago

Home grown

American sculpture of the mid- to late 19th century was often classical and often romantic, but it showed a special bent for a dramatic, narrative, almost journalistic realism (especially appropriate for nationalistic themes) as witnessed by the frontier life depicted by Frederick Remington. This was the beginning of the style of "Western Art" that continued with Alexander Phimister Proctor and others through the 20th into the 21st century.

The Bronco Buster by Frederick Remington, limited edition No. 17 of 20, 1909.

Wildlife sculptors

The naturalism of the French school, exemplified by Barye, had a great impact on the first sculptors of American wildlife.

Edward Kemeys (1833-1907), Locked in Death, 1886

Public monuments

As the century closed, the pace of monument-building quickened in the great cities of the East, especially those erected to memorialize the Civil War. Several outstanding sculptors emerged, most of them trained in the beaux-arts academies of Paris. Daniel Chester French stands out, as do Frederick William Macmonnies, Hans Schuler, and Lorado Taft. This tradition continued to the 1940s with Charles Keck, Alexander Stirling Calder and others.

The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, Boston Common, commemorates Shaw and the Afro-American 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, St. Gaudens

Carving mountains

There are at least three major mountain sculptures in the United States. These are Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain, and Crazy Horse Memorial. Gutzon Borglum, an accomplished sculpter with such pieces as Seated Lincoln and a variety of other public monuments, oversaw the sculpture of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills in South Dakota. The monument was finished after his death by his son Lincoln Borglum.

Gutzon Borglum also was responsible for starting the Stone Mountain project in Georgia but had a falling-out with its overseers. The monument was then taken up by Augustus Lukeman, who died during its carving in 1935. The memorial was finished by Walker Hancock and was considered complete in 1972.

The Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota depicts the Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse riding a horse and pointing into the distance. It was begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and continued after his death by his wife, Ruth, and several of their children. The face was dedicated in 1998.

Mount Rushmore National Monument. Sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln represent the first 150 years of American history.

Stone Mountain in Georgia

Foreground: 1:34 scale model of Crazy Horse Memorial. Background: Partly carved largest sculpture in the world, honoring the great Oglala leader. (Photo taken July 2004.)

Close-up of the face during Volksmarch, 2004

Twentieth century

As the century began, many young European sculptors migrated to the free, booming economy across the Atlantic, and European-born sculptors account for much of the great work created before 1950 (C. Paul Jennewein, Maldarelli, Ruotolo, Elie Nadelman, Albin Polasek, Gaston Lachaise, Carl Milles, Karl Bitter).

Elie Nadelman sculpture in the New York State Theater

[edit] Architectural sculpture

Public buildings of the first half of the 20th century provided an architectural setting for sculpture, especially in relief. Karl Bitter, Lee Lawrie, Adolph Alexander Weinman, C. Paul Jennewein, Rene Paul Chambellan, and many others worked in the simple, often narrative style that fit these spaces.

Copper repouss?? relief sculpture by Maurice Ascalon adorned the fa??ade of the Jewish Palestine Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Modern Classicism

Several notable American sculptors joined in the revitalization of the classical tradition at this time, most notably Paul Manship, who discovered archaic Greek sculpture while studying on a scholarship in Rome. Edward McCartan was another leader in this direction who fit easily with the art-deco tastes of the 1920s. In the 1930s and 1940s, the ideologies that rent European politics were reflected in associations of American sculptors. On the right was the group, mostly native-born, mostly old-school classical, mostly modelers of clay, who founded the National Sculpture Society, led by the heiress and sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and preserved in the sculpture park that she endowed Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.

Paul Manship, Dancer with Gazelles, 1916

American Expressionism

On the left, often immigrant, often expressionistic, was the New York-based Sculptor's Guild, with an emphasis on more current themes and direct carving in wood or stone. Its most famous member was William Zorach.

African-American sculptors

With the Harlem Renaissance, an African-American sculpture genre emerged. Richmond Barth?? was an outstanding example. Other contemporary sculptors include Elizabeth Catlett, Martin Puryear, Jerry Harris, Thaddeus Mosley, and Richard Hunt.

Elizabeth Catlett Mother and Child, 1939

Richmond Barth?? Boxer (the Cuban featherweight, Kid Chocolate), 1942

Jerry Harris Dogon mother and child

The turn toward abstraction

Some Americans, such as Isamu Noguchi, had already moved from figurative to nonfigurative design, but after 1950, the entire American art world took a dramatic turn away from the the former tradition, especially as exemplified in its application by the totalitarian and genocidal regimes of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and America led the rest of the world into a more iconoclastic and theoretical approach to modernism.

Within the next ten years, traditional sculpture education would almost completely be replaced by a Bauhaus-influenced concern for abstract design. To accompany the triumph of abstract expressionist painting, heroes of abstract sculpture such as David Smith emerged, and many new materials were explored for sculptural expression. Louise Nevelson pioneered the emerging genre of environmental sculpture.

Isamu Noguchi's Black Slide Mantra

Baron's Moon, 1958, David Smith (1906-1965)

Alexander Calder's L'empennage (1953)

Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Pushing the boundaries of art

The figure returned in the 1960s, but without the beaux-arts figurative tradition, sometimes even as life-casts like those George Segal made with plaster. Jim Gary created life-sized figures composed of metal washers and hardware almost invisibly welded together, as well as those of stained glass and even used automobile parts and tools in his sculptures. Blokus Concerns for the qualities of forms and design continued but usually without representing a human figure. Minimalist sculpture by artists such as Richard Serra and Norman Carlberg often replaced the figure in public settings. Sculpture of the late 20th century was mostly a playful exploration of the boundaries of what could be called art.

Late 20th century revival of figurative sculpture

Other kinds of sculpture grew in importance, some evolving from the work of leaders in ironwork during the early 1900s who included Samuel Yellin. A center for the western style of American sculpture developed at Loveland, Colorado, and many studios, magazines, and even a museum (the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City) pursued this interest. A neo-Victorian style emerged, pioneered by the sculptor of the National Cathedral, Frederick Hart. Meanwhile, many American sculptors persisted in their pre-war, modern/classical-style training. Some of these include Joseph Erhardy, Milton Horn, Charles Umlauf, and John Henry Waddell.

Detail of Chicago Rising from the Lake (1954) in Chicago, Illinois by Milton Horn (1906-1995).

The Three Soldiers (1984) at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial memorial in Washington, D.C. by Frederick Hart.

Other genres of sculpture

The art-doll and ceramic sculpture communities also grew in numbers and importance in the late 20th century, while the entertainment industry required large-scale, spectacular (sometimes monstrous or cartoon-like ) sculpture for movie sets, theme parks, casinos, and athletic stadiums. Industrial product design, especially automobiles, should not be ignored.


* Armstrong, Craven, et al, 200 Years of American Sculpture, Whitney Museum of Art, NYC, 1976
* Caffin, Charles H., American Masters of Sculpture, Doubleday, Page & Company, New York 1913
* Conner, Janis and Joel Rosenkranz, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture, Studio Works 1893 1939, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 1989
* Contemporary American Sculpture, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, San Francisco, The National Sculpture Society 1929
* Craven, Wayne, Sculpture in America, Thomas Y. Crowell Co, NY, NY 1968
* DeWall, Robb, Crazy Horse and Korczak: The Story of an Epic Mountain Carving, Illustrations by Marinka Ziolkowski, Korczak's Heritage , Inc. Crazy Horse, SD, 1982
* Falk, Peter Hastings, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art, Sound View Press, Madison Connecticut, 1985
* Fort, Ilene Susan, The Figure in American Sculpture: A Question of Modernity, Los Angeles County Museum of Art & University of Washington Press, Los Angeles, CA 1995
* Gadzinski, Susan James and Mary Mullen Cunningham, American Sculpture in the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Philadelphia 1997
* Greenthal, Kozol, Rameirez & Fairbanks, American Figurative Sculpture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1986
* Gridley, Marion E., Americas Indian Statues, Marion E. Gridley, Chicago, Illinois 1966
* Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Architectural Sculpture in America, unpublished manuscript
* McSpadden, J. Walker, Famous Sculptors of America, Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc. New York 1924
* Navarra, Tova, Jim Gary: His Life and Art, HFN, New York 1987
* Opitz, Glenn B , Editor, Mantle Fieldings Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers, Apollo Book, Poughkeepsie NY, 1986
* Proske, Beatrice Gilman, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina, 1968
* Reynalds, Donald Martin, Masters of American Sculpture: The Figurative Tradition From the American Renaissance to the Millennium, Abbeville Press, NY 1993
* Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer, American Women Sculptors, G.K. Hall & Co., Boston 1990
* Smith, Rex Allen, The Carving of Mount Rushmore, Abbeville Press, New York 1985
* Taft, Lorado, The History of American Sculpture, MacMillan Co., New York, NY 1925

[edit] External links

* 20th Century Figure sculpture

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