there is everything from the marble gods of Phidias to the mobiles by Alexander
Calder. People everywhere have found the need for sculpture, whether it be in
work, in play, or in prayer. Sculpture also records the desire to commemorate
the deeds of nations and of individuals.
Sculpture Among Early Peoples
The earliest club wielded by the caveman was no great work of art, but it was
sculpture of a kind. The gods that early peoples created out of their fear
required a form as tangible as the club, though more complex. The earliest
worshipers could not cope with abstract ideas of their gods. They had to see,
touch, sacrifice to, and sometimes punish them.
In Polynesia and Peru, in southern France, New Zealand, Africa, and Mexico we
find evidence that sculpture entered into every aspect of primitive life. Many
of these early objects--whether intended for use or decoration--are fascinating
in their strangeness and beautiful in their design. Modern artists, seeking new
and vital forms of expression, have found a rich fountain of inspiration in
these crude but serious efforts of early humans.
In the Americas sculpture thrived long before the arrival of Columbus. The
Tarascans and Aztecs of ancient Mexico and the highly gifted Mayas of Central
America rank high in pre-Columbian sculpture.
Among the most interesting finds in pre-Columbian sculpture are the
archaeological remains near the town of Tula, Mexico--the ancient capital of the
Toltecs. Among the structures were a palace complex, temple pyramids, a civic
center, and a platform altar. Distinctively carved columns supported part of the
main temple. Typical of these are the two sculptures pictured: warriors 15 feet
tall and decorated with what may be ceremonial ornaments and dress of their
The Art of Egypt
As far back as 5,000 years ago Egypt had introduced a style that, with
surprisingly little change, continued for almost 3,000 years. Rules for the
making of statues were rigidly prescribed, as were social and religious customs.
Religion was the dominant force in life on Earth and it required certain
preparations for the life beyond. Sculpture was entirely associated with the
needs of religion and the gods or with the earthly rulers who were regarded as
their representatives (see Egypt, Ancient).
To symbolize the godlike role of the kings, they were represented as half human,
half animal. The great Sphinx at Gizeh is the best-known example. To express
their power and eternal life they were carved in the hardest stone and in
colossal proportions. The statues of Rameses II at Abu Simbel are examples.
Mesopotamia and Its Art
More than 4,000 years ago the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers began
to teem with life--first the Sumerian, then the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean,
and Persian empires. Here too excavations have unearthed evidence of great skill
and artistry. From Sumeria have come examples of fine works in marble, diorite,
hammered gold, and lapis lazuli. Of the many portraits produced in this area,
some of the best are those of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.
Babylonian and Assyrian sculpture is impressive in its vitality, massiveness,
and rich imagination. Huge fanciful lions or winged bulls with human heads stood
guard at palace entrances. Inside, the walls were carved with scenes of royal
hunting parties, battles, and festivities. In Persia too, especially at
Persepolis, fine sculpture was produced.
The Glorious Sculpture of Greece
The glory of Greece was its sculpture. The roots of Greek sculpture reach into
the earlier cultures of Crete, Mycenae, and even Egypt. The figures of the 7th
and 6th centuries BC lack life and movement; their faces wear the frozen smile
peculiar to archaic sculpture. Even so, these early craftsmen, whose names are
lost with the temples they decorated, show sensitivity to the qualities of
marble and a superb sense of design. As if to make up for the lack of life in
their statues, archaic sculptors sought naturalism by painting them.
Greek sculpture rose to its highest achievement in the 5th century BC, when the
spirit of Greece itself was at its height. ( see Greek art for examples )
From the Romans to the Renaissance
The Romans lacked the intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities of the Greeks.
Their strength lay in military prowess, engineering, road building, and
lawmaking. Their emperors required realistic portraits and triumphal arches to
impress their own people and the subjugated nations of their far-flung empire.
The triumphal arches of the Emperors Titus and Constantine, adorned with scenes
of victory and battle, have inspired similar efforts in Europe and America, from
the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, to the Memorial Arch of Valley Forge.
By the 2nd century AD, however, Rome and sculpture both had lost their vigor. As
collectors, copyists, and imitators of Greek sculpture, however, the Romans
handed on to later generations the partial fruits of Greek labor. ( see Roman
art for examples )
Christianity and a New Art
In the 4th century the Roman Empire accepted Christianity as its religion. This
meant a new kind of art. Sculpture, like painting, music, and philosophy, turned
for inspiration to the church, and the church, faced with the need of
interpreting the new religion for great masses of people, used the arts to good
advantage. The vast majority of people could not read, and sculpture and
painting became their books--as stained glass windows would a few centuries
Art was austere, symbolic, and otherworldly from about the 8th to the 1 2th
century, the middle period of the Middle Ages. It was decidedly abstract, not
realistic. Religious in subject matter, sculpture was closely related to church
The Renaissance in Italy
The term Renaissance, meaning "rebirth," is used to describe the
vigorous cultural activity of 14th- and 15th-century Italy and the revival of
classical learning. Following Italy's lead, France and northern Europe also
turned their interests from the rewards of heaven to the opportunities of their
own world. In doing so they found themselves akin in spirit to the Romans and
Greeks before them. In their new love of life and search for knowledge they
reached back a thousand years for every shred of instruction and inspiration.
The Italians needed only to dig into the ground beneath them to find examples of
the splendid sculpture of Rome.
The Baroque in Sculpture
Michelangelo had shown the way to express robust power with technical
excellence. In his day these attributes of art were urgently desired by both
church and state--the church to bolster its prestige in the face of Protestant
successes, and the state to glorify its rising power. This trend carried over
into the 17th century, when the zeal that built St. Peter's in Rome expressed
itself in a renewed vigor wherever Roman Catholicism prevailed.
The leader of the baroque movement was Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680),
architect as well as sculptor. The series of 162 figures that surmounts his
imposing colonnade in front of St. Peter's in Rome is only a part of the
tremendous amount of work he did for the church. His fountains of Rome,
including the 'Fountain of the Four Rivers', gave the Eternal City a new and
lasting splendor. Typical of Bernini's style is his 'St. Teresa', where the
overactive drapery and theatrical setting are designed to show off skill rather
than to convey meaning.
Sculpture in France
The Renaissance in France began about the time of Francis I (1494-1547). To his
court were invited many Italian artists and architects, among them Benvenuto
Cellini and Leonardo da Vinci. A little later, as the power of Italy waned and
that of France rose, the ideas transplanted to the new country took deep root
and blossomed into new life.
Neoclassicism in Sculpture
For all the interest in classical antiquity during and after the Renaissance
there had been no systematic study of classical remains until the brilliant and
inspired work of the German archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68).
His published writings on Herculaneum and Pompeii led to a new, impassioned
interest in the ancient art of Greece and Rome. Artists now resolved to revive
classical purity by adhering strictly to the style of original examples.
This movement, known as neoclassicism, began in the latter half of the 18th
century and continued into the early 19th, when it gained political support
through Napoleon's interest in Greek ideology. The leading exponent of this
style in Italy was Antonio Canova (1757-1822). However correct in principle, his
work remains cold in feeling, just as were the works of his followers in
England, Germany, and Denmark.
The 19th Century
The formality and coldness of neoclassicism came as a reaction against the
theatrical baroque and against the florid rococo, which flourished in
18th-century France. Moreover, the political atmosphere in which the new art
operated was sympathetic to the reverence for the ancients. Napoleon saw himself
as another Caesar. His minister of art, Jacques-Louis David, caused even
furniture and dress to be designed in classical lines. Gradually, however,
artists returned to the life about them. François Rude (1784-1855) broke
through classical restraint to create one of the world's most stirring relief
compositions--the 'Marseillaise' on the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris. Rude's pupil
Jean Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-75) carried on the active, emotional themes.
Sculpture in the United States
The first American sculptor of significance was the Philadelphian William Rush
(1756-1833), who worked in wood. He left a fine full-size carving of George
Washington as well as a vigorous self-portrait. His younger contemporaries,
however, were studiously copying European examples of the neoclassical school in
Italy. Horatio Greenough (1805-52) made an imposing figure of Washington in
which he looks more like a half-dressed Roman emperor than the father of his
country. Thomas Crawford (1814-57) decorated the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The
statue of 'Armed Liberty' surmounting the dome and the bronze doors are among
his best works.
Other noteworthy American sculptors;
Henry Kirke Brown (1814-86), John Quincy Adams Ward (1830-1910), Augustus Saint-Gaudens
(1848-1907), Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), Frederick MacMonnies
(1863-1937), George Grey Barnard (1863-1938), Paul Wayland Bartlett (1865-1925),
Frederic Remington (1861-1909), Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941).
Reports of the splendor of Asian art were brought to Europe by Marco Polo. By
the 18th century Europeans not only possessed original ceramics, enamels, and
furniture from the East but were adapting Asian designs and skills in their own
products. Chinese Chippendale furniture and chinaware are examples. The art of
Japan was brought into prominence in the mid-19th century in Paris by the
Goncourt brothers, and it was Auguste Rodin who first gave public recognition to
the sculpture of India. In the latter part of the 19th century, when artists
were seeking inspiration for a newer, fresher art, these sources, together with
those of Africa and Muslim countries, provided them with rich material.
Sculpture in India was centered on the worship of Buddha and the three gods who
form the trinity of Hinduism--Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Although Siddhartha
Gotama, the Buddha, lived in the 6th century BC, it was not until the 1st
century AD that the familiar statues of him appeared. The Gupta period, lasting
from the 4th to the 6th century AD, produced some of the finest examples of
Buddhist sculpture. For the first 700 years of the Christian Era, the Gandhara
region, now in modern Pakistan and Afghanistan, produced many examples of
Greco-Buddhist sculpture. The Hellenistic influence was introduced following the
conquest of north India by Alexander the Great. To Shiva are dedicated the
monumental rock-hewn temples of the period from the 5th to the 8th century. The
equally majestic sun temples to Vishnu date from the 11th to the 13th century.
The Chinese were master craftsmen and produced fine sculpture, especially in
bronze. Although bronze casting existed a thousand years earlier, it was in the
Chou period (1122-221 BC) that China developed the art to its peak.
Tradition in Sculpture
Each period in art is a link in the golden chain of creative a achievement. If
sculptors use historical examples and techniques to sharpen their vision, to
deepen their insight, and to solve their problems, they use tradition
Lighting and Point of View
While working on a statue, the sculptor relies on proper light to study the
planes by which masses turn from the light into the shade, creating the sense of
solidity and third dimension. Only by light properly cast can he study shape,
texture, and character.
The sculptor strives to show his finished work in the same light by which he
worked originally. A light cast too weakly or too strongly from a source too
high or too low can undo the effort of the sculptor and destroy the
effectiveness of his creation.
Materials and Processes
To fashion sculpture man had to learn to use certain materials and to develop
appropriate tools and processes. Carving is the process of reducing substances
such as stone, wood, or ivory to a desired shape by cutting or chipping away
unnecessary parts. The earliest carvings were probably nothing more than figures
scratched into the flat surface of a rock. As time went on primitive sculptors
discovered that by cutting away the background surrounding the figure, the
animal or other figure appeared more real. This was the beginning of relief
sculpture. Sculpture in which the figures extend from the background less than
half of their natural volume is called low relief. That which extends beyond
this point is called high relief, and sculpture that stands completely away from
its background is said to be in full round.
Types of Casting
Casting is the process by which a piece of sculpture is reproduced through the
use of a mold. A plaster mold consisting of two or more tightly fitting parts is
made over or around the original clay model. When it is hard, the mold is
removed, cleaned, oiled on the inside, and reassembled. Through an opening left
for the purpose a creamy mixture of plaster and water is poured into the mold,
and the mold is gently rolled so that the plaster is distributed evenly over the
inner surface. The excess is poured out and the process is repeated until the
desired thickness is achieved. When it is dry, this newly formed plaster shell
is freed by chipping away the outer mold. The result is a perfect replica of the
original model. Because the original clay model and the mold are both destroyed
in the process, this is known as a waste mold.
The plaster cast can now be given a desired surface quality by paint or shellac
or can be used as a model for further casting in more durable materials such as
bronze and other metals, terra cotta, and cement. More complex molds, which
permit more than one replica to be produced, must be used for this purpose. Thus
it differs from the waste mold.
The casting of metals requires special skill and great care. Bronze has proved
to be the most versatile metal for casting. The two principal methods are the
sand mold process and the lost-wax (cire-perdue in French) process. The first
uses a specially prepared sand mold, the second a silica mold.
Each mold has an inside core, built so as to leave a thin space between itself
and the outer mold. The outer contour of this space bears the exact contour of
the original cast from which the mold was made. When hot liquid bronze is poured
into this space it takes the shape of the original plaster, thus resulting in a
perfect reproduction. The space in the silica mold is filled with wax until it
is melted out by the hot bronze, hence the name lost-wax process. This is the
process made famous by Benvenuto Cellini and so skillfully practiced by many
ancient peoples, especially the Chinese.
Patina is the term used for the surface color and quality of bronze and other
materials. Without waiting for time, use, and atmospheric conditions to give a
lovely surface to sculpture, artists use acids, heat, and other devices to
achieve immediate effects of mellowness, age, and subtle color.
From an article by Jack Bookbinder, former Director of Art Education,
Philadelphia Public Schools and by Christopher Lyon, Editor, Department of
Public Information, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Kouros, 1944-45 Isamu
Marble; H. 117 in. (297.2 cm) Base: D. 34-1/8, W. 42 in. (86.7 x 106.7 cm)
Reproduced with the permission of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Inc.
in America in 1904 to a Japanese father and an American mother, Isamu Noguchi
spent the majority of his childhood in Japan (1906-18) before going to the
United States to continue his schooling (1918-24). Between 1927 and 1937, his
frequent and extended travels to Europe, China, Japan, and Mexico, where he saw
modern painting and sculpture being made, studied calligraphy, and painted a
mural, provided him with an eclectic range of artistic experiences upon which to
draw. Noguchi's sculptures and drawings from the mid-1940s are occupied with
figurative and biomorphic imagery. "Kouros" illustrates the biomorphic
vocabulary that Noguchi devised in order to abstract the human figure into
fragmented, bonelike elements and may be compared to the biomorphic abstractions
produced by such Surrealist artists as Jean Arp, Matta, Joan Miró, Pablo
Picasso, and Yves Tanguy. Noguchi always contended that the organic quality of
his work came not from Surrealist examples, however, but from his familiarity
with traditional Japanese arts and crafts - bells, samurai swords, and floral
arrangements. Although Surrealism no doubt played a part in Noguchi's use of
biomorphic abstraction in the 1940s, he was already predisposed to it by an
earlier and more memorable experience - that of working with the sculptor
Constantin Brancusi in Paris while traveling on a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial
Fellowship. As Brancusi's part-time studio assistant for about five months in
1927, the twenty-two-year-old Noguchi learned how simple organic shapes could
evoke figurative associations. He also acquired the techniques needed to carve
in stone, which he first used for his own sculpture in the 1930s and which
continued to dominate his aesthetic for more than fifty years. This dedication
to traditional techniques and materials was in direct opposition to the more
industrial welded-metal construction that was popularized in the 1940s and 1950s
by such sculptors as Herbert Ferber, Theodore Roszak, and David Smith. In all,
Noguchi completed about fifteen interlocking sculptures between 1945 and 1948,
including the Metropolitan Museum's famous pink marble sculpture "Kouros,"
which is more than nine feet high. These sculptures were assembled from
individual pieces of carved stone, without benefit of adhesives or pinions, by
notching and slotting the pieces together. As Noguchi explained: "You have
to consider the weight of the material, the forces that conspire to hold up the
figure - engineering problems, essentially. Everything I do has an element of
engineering in it - particularly since I dislike gluing parts together or
taking advantage of something that is not inherent in the material . . . there
are no adhesives of any kind - only the stones holding themselves
together." The fragmented figures that were created, both in drawings and
sculpture, reflect Noguchi's feelings about the precarious state of the world
after World War II, which he characterized as "the encroaching void."
Such feelings were echoed in the statements made by some of the Abstract
Expressionists at the time and in the primordial and mythic imagery they chose
to depict. For Noguchi, as for many Abstract Expressionists, abstraction was a
way to convey the intimate relationship between contemporary man and these
ancient, universal sources.
Antigraceful, 1913, cast
1950-51 Umberto Boccioni
Bronze; H. 23, W. 20-1/2, D. 20 in. (58.4 x 52.1 x 50.8 cm)
of Umberto Boccioni's favored subjects was his mother, Cecilia Forlani Boccioni.
From photographs and from Boccioni's own renderings of 1906 to 1915, she appears
to have been a large matronly woman with a broad round face, thick knobby
fingers, and elegantly upswept gray hair. Boccioni featured her in at least
forty-five paintings, drawings, etchings, and sculptures, often producing a
series of studies based on a single pose. The title of his sculpture, "Antigraceful,"
refers to Boccioni's rejection of traditional artistic values. As he wrote in
his book "Pittura, scultura futuriste" (1914): "We must smash,
demolish, and destroy our traditional harmony, which makes us fall into a
gracefulness created by timid and sentimental cubs. We disown the past because
we want to forget, and in art to forget means to be renewed." Using Cubist
distortions and fragmentation, Boccioni attempted to undermine the accepted
concepts of proportion, harmony, and beauty. He also attached elements from the
surrounding environment to this portrait (such as the building rising from the
mother's head) in a Futurist union of figure and space. Boccioni began working
in three dimensions in Paris about March 1912, when he wrote to a friend:
"These days I am obsessed by sculpture! I believe I have glimpsed a
complete renovation of that mummified art." A month later, in Milan, he
published the "Technical Manifesto of Sculpture," and by June 1913 he
had produced a significant body of eleven plaster sculptures that were exhibited
at Galerie La Boëtie in Paris. Included in that exhibition was "Antigraceful,"
which may have been influenced by Pablo Picasso's bronze "Head of a
Woman" of 1909. Guillaume Apollinaire, an admirer of Boccioni's sculpture,
admonished him to have his plasters cast in bronze.
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Liangzhu culture, ca. 2700-2200 B.C.Jiangsu or Zhejiang province, China Nephrite; Diam. 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm). The austere shape, imposing mass, and monumental proportions identify this perforated disk (bi) as an important ceremonial object of China's Neolithic culture. Worked from a mottled green stone identified as nephrite (a form of jade), it bears traces of saw and drill marks on its otherwise smooth surface. The function and meaning of these disks are unknown. As late as the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), jade disks performed a ritual function in aristocratic burials, where they were placed above the head, below the feet, and on the chest of the deceased.
Bust of warrior,
(3rd-7th century), 5th-6th century Kanto region, Japan Earthenware with painted, incised, and applied decoration; H. 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm), W. 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm). This "haniwa" (circle of clay) bust of a warrior is boldly potted from fragile earthenware. The traces of red paint found on this figure indicate that it was made in the Kanto region (around Tokyo). Haniwa were placed at the top of the burial mound, in the center, along the edges, and at the entrance of the burial chamber of enormous tombs that were constructed for the ruling elite during the 3rd-7th century period. These tombs were generally covered with large mounds of earth and were often shaped like keyholes and surrounded by moats.
Adam, 15th century (ca. 1490-95) By Tullio Lombardo (ca. 1455-1532)
Italian (Venice) Marble; H. 6 ft. 3 1/2 in. (191.8 cm)
Tullio Lombardo came from a prestigious family of sculptors and architects in Venice. His tomb for the doge Andrea Vendramin (d. 1478) now in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, originally contained this lifesize figure of Adam, signed on the base by the sculptor. Adam is based on a combination of antique figures of Antinous and Bacchus. Further refinements are his meaningful glance and eloquent hands (one holding the Apple of Temptation) and the tree trunk adorned with a serpent and a grapevine, allusions to the Fall and Redemption of Man. Remarkable for the purity of its marble and the smoothness of its carving, Adam was the first monumental classical nude carved following antiquity.
Madonna and Child with Angels, RELIEF, 15th century By Antonio Rossellino (1427-1479)
Italian (Florence); Made in Florence, Italy. Antonio Rossellino was among the most gifted sculptors of his generation. This example, carved from mottled brown marble about 1455-60, is particularly successful. The protective, caressing gesture of the Virgin's left hand is especially poignant. The surface is richly contoured and decorated, and the concern for finish extends to the background, which is enlivened by the heads and feathery wings of seraphim. Typical of painters of the period is the sculptor's attention to ornamental detail: the fringe of the Virgin's mantle, the haloes, and the strands of hair of both Virgin and Child are delicately highlighted with touches of gilding.
Nymph and Satyr Carousing, 18th century (ca. 1780-90)
Clodion (Claude Michel) (1738-1814), Sculptor
Made in Paris, France. Terracotta; H. 23 1/4 in. (59.1 cm) Clodion, whose career spanned the last decades of the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign, embraced his era's taste for antiquity. While often Neoclassical, his manner at times remained quite Rococo, as in the present example. His fame and popularity rested on his skill at modeling small-scale terracotta groups for private collectors. The seeming spontaneity of this composition, a rapturous embrace, in which it appears that the senses are totally abandoned, was achieved only after much meditation. The sculpture shows deliberate adjustments of angles, openings, and masses, all checked and balanced.
Torso of a standing bodhisattva, Kushan period
ca. late 1st-2nd century ancient region of Gandhara, Pakistan H. 64 1/2 in. (163.8 cm). Strategically located along the crossroads from the Mediterranean, Gandhara was of tremendous military and commercial significance. Throughout its early history it attracted many different figures and peoples -among them, Alexander the Great -all of whom in varying degrees left their cultural imprint on the region. The area's artistic style, reflects the classical legacy of Alexander the Great's cultural heirs and is markedly dependent upon Hellenistic and Roman prototypes. The most popular Gandharan image, after those representing the Buddha, was that of the bodhisattva, a being who attains enlightenment and escapes the cycle of death and rebirth but chooses to remain on earth to help others achieve salvation.
Seated Couple, 16th-19th century;
Dogon peoples; Mali
Wood, metal; H. 28 3/4 in. (73 cm). This idealized couple exemplifies some of the basic roles of men and women in Dogon society. On the male figure's back is a hunter's or warrior's quiver, while the female carries an infant on her back. The man's gestures emphasize both his role as progenitor and the woman's as nurturer. The complementarity and interdependence of their roles is suggested formally by the identical columnar forms that define the two figures and by the horizontal elements that connect them. Although their facial features and ornaments are symmetrical, the artist has infused these figures with individuality by subtly varying the direction of their gaze.
Reliquary Head (Nlo Bieri), 19th-20th century; Fang peoples; Gabon, Africa
Wood, metal, oil; H. 18 5/16 in. (46.5 cm). In Fang society, figurative sculptures produced for the ancestor cult, or "bieri," were designed to complement reliquary containers. Such works were memorialized and addressed in times of need through relics preserved in the attached container. Fang reliquary sculpture powerfully influenced Modernist artists who began collecting non-Western art during the early twentieth century.
Statuette of a Hippopotamus, ca. 1991-1783 B.C.E.; Dynasty 12; Middle Kingdom Faience
Ceramic; H. 4 3/8 in. (11.2 cm), L. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm). This well-formed statuette of a hippopotamus demonstrates the Egyptian artist's appreciation for the natural world. It was molded in faience, a ceramic material made of ground quartz. Beneath the blue-green glaze, the body was painted with the outlines of river plants, symbolizing the marshes in which the animal lived. To the ancient Egyptians, the hippopotamus was one of the most dangerous animals in their world. The huge creatures were a hazard for small fishing boats and other rivercraft. The beast might also be encountered on the waterways in the journey to the afterlife. As such, the hippopotamus was a force of nature that needed to be propitiated and controlled, both in this life and the next.
Standing Woman (Elevation), 1927
Gaston Lachaise (American, born France, 1882-1935)
Bronze; H. 73-7/8, W. 32, D. 17-3/4 in. (185.1 x 81.3 x 45.1 cm). Lachaise began the monumental "Standing Woman," his first full-size figure, upon arriving in New York in 1912. Over the next several years he made numerous revisions before exhibiting it publicly, as a painted plaster, at Stephan Bourgeois Gallery, New York, in February 1918. The piece was not cast in bronze until 1927, in anticipation of his forthcoming exhibition at Brummer Gallery, New York, in February-March 1928. Several castings, some executed posthumously, exist of this sculpture. Although inspired by Lachaise's beloved, the figure in "Standing Woman" goes beyond the particulars of any single individual to suggest the more archetypal image of the ideal woman.
Pendant Mask: Iyoba, 16th century
Edo, court of Benin; Nigeria
Ivory, iron, copper; H. 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm). This ivory pendant mask is one of a pair of nearly identical works; its counterpart is in the British Museum in London. The pendant mask is believed to have been produced in the early sixteenth century for the Oba Esigie, the king of Benin, to honor his mother, Idia. The Oba may have worn it at rites commemorating his mother, although today such pendants are worn at annual ceremonies of spiritual renewal and purification. In Benin, ivory is related to the color white, a symbol of ritual purity that is associated with Olokun, god of the sea. As the source of extraordinary wealth and fertility, Olokun is the spiritual counterpart of the Oba. Ivory is central to the constellation of symbols surrounding Olokun and the Oba. Not only is it white, but it is itself Benin's principle commercial commodity and it helped attract the Portuguese traders who also brought wealth to Benin.
Eyes, 1982 Louise Bourgeois (American, born France, 1911)
Marble; H. 74-3/4, W. 54, D. 45-3/4 in. (189.9 x 137.2 x 116.2 cm) r l Louise Bourgeois began her career as a painter and engraver, turning to sculpture in the late 1940s. Her sculptures of the 1940s were composed groupings of elongated, carved wood totems, abstract in shape and painted in a uniform color. In the 1960s her work, which retained its Surrealist undertones, expanded in size and was executed in bronze, carved stone, and rubber latex. Bourgeois's highly idiosyncratic style relies on an intensely personal vocabulary of anthropomorphic forms charged with sexual allusions. "Eyes" is a large marble sculpture that shows the persistence of Surrealist iconography in her late work. The eye, a recurring motif in Surrealism, served as both a symbol for the act of perception and as an allusion to female sexual anatomy. Perched on top of a massive marble block chiseled in various places to resemble a house (a recurring theme in her work) are two highly polished round balls with a carved circular opening at each center. As a unit they suggest a bold abstract head, a female torso, or the symbolic marriage of woman to home and family.