Russian artist Alexander Grigorev uses wood and gold paint to create intricate yet minimalist sculptures such as those in his Molecule series. This series touches on the relationship between European society with Asian and Russian tradition that Alexander experienced first-hand. His work pushes sculpture into the realm of innovative architectural design as the artist uses carefully constructed designs to explore the relationship of innovative western ideas with conventional Russian and Asian craftsmanship.
Nicola Beattie creates indoor sculpture out of stone, plaster and bronze focusing on the power of light and water. Nicola’s artwork Furl (2018) is a small sculpture made out of Spanish alabaster stone. The simplicity of the design is not to be underestimated, as its carefully folded centre creates a circular form that captures the power of light on the natural material. The sculpture’s use of light radiates a sense of tranquillity and calmness.
Traditionally, sculptures have been created from carving, modelling, casting or constructing materials of stone, metal and wood. Yet in recent years, artists have also worked with the modern materials of glass and steel.
The purpose of sculpture for monumental recognition and celebration went unchallenged for hundreds of years. Like many art forms, sculpture during the 19th and 20th centuries undertook radical transformation as modern art broke away from traditional conventions. Sculpture in western nations modernised Classicism with an emphasis on naturalism, melodrama and sentimentality. Bronze casted sculptures such as The Thinker (1880) by Auguste Rodin embody these new values of modern classicism. Rodin captures the physical and emotional expression conducted by the subject as opposed to its realistic details.
In the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s, modern art movements, such as Cubism, Conceptualism and Minimalism, experimented with traditional sculptural techniques and materials. Pablo Picasso created a series of collaged objects and materials into single sculptures, referring to them as ‘involuntary sculptures.’ Artists such as Marcel Duchamp coined the term ‘found object’ by displaying Fountain (1917) as a sculptural work. These artworks by Picasso and Duchamp began to challenge the perception of how sculptures were produced and perceived.
Whilst Picasso and Duchamp broke down the material and conceptual boundaries of sculpture, British artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore continued to use the traditional materials of stone and metal to create revolutionary conceptual designs. Many contemporary artists continue to push the boundaries of sculpture including some of our artists such as Willie Nash and Yurim Gough.
Find out more in our Guide To Sculpture.