Auguste Rodin’s works are considered to be the beginnings of modern sculpture. Rodin modeled the human figure with realism and emphasized the figure’s character and physical features.
The Burghers of Calais by Rodin
The Burghers of Calais is a famous work of Rodin’s. It was sculpted as an historical monument for the city of Calais, France to recognize six citizens who once risked their lives to save the city.
The Thinker by Rodin
Probably Rodin’s most well-known sculpture is The Thinker. This sculpture shows a man who appears lost in thought, yet who has a powerful body capable of great action. Numerous casts have been made of The Thinker, and they can be found in museums throughout the world. One sculpture of The Thinker is displayed in the gardens of the Rodin Museum in Paris. The Rodin Museum has more than 6,000 of his sculptures.
Gravesite of Rodin
Another copy of The Thinker graces the tomb of Rodin and his wife. It was Rodin’s wish that The Thinker serve as his headstone and epitaph. Rodin's work had a large influence on future sculptors.
TUESDAY - Henry Moore
Henry Moore was an important British sculptor of the 20th century. Moore liked to create sculptures by direct carving on wood or stone.
Many of his sculptures reflect objects from nature, such as pebbles, shells, and bones. The sculptures often have openings within them.
Two of Moore’s favorite themes for sculptures were a mother and child and a reclining figure.
Moore's sculpture for UNESCO
Moore produced many large sculptures. A marble reclining figure he made for the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris is over 16 feet in length and weighs 39 tons.
Bird Basket by Moore
Moore’s sculpture of the Bird Basket shows his interest in open and closed forms. The strings encourage the viewer to notice and be aware of the space surrounding the figure as well as the figure itself.
YouTube video - Henry Moore Sculptures (2:18 min.)
WEDNESDAY - Alexander Calder
Alexander Calder was an American artist known for being the first to include motion in his sculptures.
One of his earliest moving artworks was his Calder’s Circus, the pieces of which were made from wire, rubber, cloth, cork, and other found objects. Cranks and motors moved his earliest sculptures.
Calder is the inventor of the mobile, which is a type of sculpture that is delicately balanced with shapes that move from a touch or from a breeze.
A French artist came up with the word “mobile” to describe Calder’s hanging sculptures.
This large Calder mobile hangs in the lobby of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The photo belows shows a Calder exhibit in the National Gallery.
National Gallery of Art Calder display
Calder also made large, abstract sculptures that did not move, which he called stabiles, since they were stable and still.
Calder created monumental sculptures for public properties. One of these, Mountains and Clouds, is in the US Hart Senate Office Building. The sculpture spans the entire nine-story atrium of the building.
Senate Hart Building sculpture by Calder
Calder also produced three-dimensional line-drawing sculptures using wire. He referred to the sculptures as “drawing in space.”
Calder line drawing sculpture
YouTube video - Alexander Calder [a look at his art] (2:48 min.)
YouTube video - Calder performing his Circus (5:00 min.)
Christo Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude were a married couple who created very large-scale environmental works of art. For years credit for the large sculptures was given to Christo, the husband, alone, but in 1994 it was realized that the husband and wife worked on the art as a team. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s sculptures were called “environmental” because they were so broad in scale that they affected an entire area or environment.
The Reichstag Building wrapped
Several of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s large-scale works involved wrapping something. They wrapped the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany.
Pont Neuf in Paris, France wrapped
They also wrapped a bridge in Paris, France.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude strung a gigantic orange curtain across a Colorado valley.
In 1983, Christo and Jeane-Claude completed their art project of surrounding eleven of the islands of Biscayne Bay near Miami Beach with pink floating fabric.
For their environmental art, The Umbrellas, the pair set up 1,340 blue umbrellas in Japan at the same time that 1,780 umbrellas were set up in southern California. These umbrellas became a huge tourist attraction, but the exhibit had to be closed when a woman was killed by an umbrella toppling from high winds.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude set up 7,503 “gates” in Central Park of New York made of golden yellow fabric The gates project cost $21 million dollars which the couple raised by selling art.
Trees wrapped in Switzerland
The artworks of Christo and Jeanne-Claude sometimes stirred up controversy. People protested that the large sculptures interfered with daily life or with the landscape.
Running fence in California
The artists said the works were only intended to make viewers see familiar landscapes in new ways and to temporarily create impressions of joy and beauty.
YouTube Video - Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Overview of their work [great views of their environmental art from a helicopter] (5:24 min.)
YouTube video - Modern Sculpture in Washington D.C. [shows a variety of modern sculptures] (5:41 min.)
FRIDAY - Varieties of sculptures
Rodin’s work is viewed as the beginnings of modern sculpture. The art of sculpture is always changing as artists use their creativity and try new things. Sculpture can take many forms.
Living sculpture is created with things that are growing such as plants and trees. Topiary sculptures prune a shrub into a form.
Crop art is made by creating patterns in a large field.
Ice sculpture can be beautiful and is appreciated for the fact that the artist’s finished work is temporary.
Some contemporary sculptures use light or technology.
Sculpture can be intended to surprise or to be humorous.
Much sculpture is displayed in public places and is meant to be enjoyed by all.
These creative sculptures have a surrealistic look, similar to the art of one of last year’s artists of the week, Salvador Dali.
This sculpture by Duane Hanson shocks us because of how realistic it is.
Sculptures can be as large as Mount Rushmore.
They can also be as tiny as those by Willard Wigan, one of last year’s Faces of Creativity. His sculpture of Rodin’s The Thinker fits on the head of a pin. Like all art, there are few rules for creating sculpture.
YouTube video - Amazing Giant Sculptures Around the World (2:11 min.)
Go to these sites to see some amazing large sculptures:
Bored Panda,. '25 Of The Most Creative Sculptures And Statues From Around The World'. N. p., 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
My Modern Met,. '22 Of The Coolest Sculptures You'll Ever See'. N. p., 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.