#10 FERNANDO BOTERO
Fernando Botero’s father died when he was four. In his youth, he joined a school for matadors. When he was 14, Botero took six of his bull paintings to a vendor’s shop and asked the vendor to sell them. When one of his paintings found a buyer, Botero realized that he could make a living as an artist. His paintings were first exhibited at the age of 16 and, with time, he became one of the most successful and richest contemporary artists. In the 1960s, Botero developed his trademark style of depicting people and figures in large, exaggerated volume. His style is very distinct, unique and immediately apparent to the observer. Though only a part of Botero’s total oeuvre, sculptures are perhaps his most significant works and the ones that first brought him international fame. Fernando Botero is the most influential Latin American artist in the world and perhaps the best-known living sculptor.
Masterpiece:The Trojan Horse (1992)
#9 CONSTANTIN BRÂNCUȘI
Born in a family of poor peasants, Brancusi showed early talent for carving objects out of wood. An industrialist helped him enter the Craiova School of Arts and Crafts and he then enrolled in the Bucharest School of Fine Arts. After leaving Rodin’s workshop, he began developing the revolutionary style for which he is known. Brancusi aimed to depict in his sculpture “not the outer form but the idea, the essence of things”. Though his art is regarded as abstract by many, he insisted that it was representational and disclosed a fundamental, often concealed, reality. Constantin Brancusi is regarded as a pioneer of modernism, an influential movement marked by a deliberate departure from tradition. He was one of the most influential 20th-century sculptors and is called the patriarch of modern sculpture.
Masterpiece: Bird in Space (1923)
#7 PABLO PICASSO
Pablo Picasso is widely regarded as the most influential artist of the 20th century. Among other things, he co-pioneered the art movement Cubism, in which artists depicted the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to give it greater context. Unlike painting in which he was formally trained, sculpture occupied an experimental status for Picasso. In the late 1920s, he experimented with structures made of wire and then transferred these surrealistic compositions to sculpture. In the following decades, Picasso used waste and debris to make sculptures, which he then cast in bronze. In the last stage of his career, he produced colored sculptures of sheet metal. Considered by many as the greatest painter of all time, “Pablo Picasso” is also a renowned sculptor whose works in the medium continue to be extensively known.
Masterpiece: Calder’s Circus (1926 – 1931)
#6 HENRY MOORE
Henry Moore, along with his professional opposing Barbara Hepworth, was a pioneer in the field of modern sculpture and he is considered among the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. While studying at the Leeds School of Art, Moore and Hepworth became friends and developed a friendly professional rivalry that would last for many years. The influence they exerted on each other’s work was not only important in the development of their careers but also instrumental in the rise of Modernism in the British art scene. Henry Moore is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art. His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure; and are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. Henry Moore was a worldwide celebrity by the 1940s and he exerted direct influence on several generations of sculptors.
Masterpiece: Chicago Picasso (1967)
#5 Jim West
Nationality: United States
The Bond. Unveiled on June 3, 2017 at the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge Building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this historical piece tells the story about how a single piece of fabric bonded two countries and three men. Commissioned by the Grand Masonic Museum of Philadelphia.
The story begins when Benjamin Franklin went to France as a diplomat and was influential in negotiating the involvement with the French in the American War of Independence. During this time, George Washington was Commander in Chief of the Continental Army of the American Revolution. When the French Alliance sent their troops, they were led by Gilbert du Montier Lafayette. Lafayette gifted George Washington an apron; a fabric that bonds the two countries together. The monumental statue depicts George Washington presenting that apron to Benjamin Franklin. The apron is displayed in the Grand Masonic Museum of Philadelphia, tours available.
Masterpiece: The Bond (2017)
The Renaissance was a period in the history of Europe which was was marked by renewed interest in ancient “Greco-Roman culture”. Donatello and Brunelleschi went on to exert a great and profound influence on Renaissance art and architecture. He also pioneered several artistic techniques which would have a profound and immense influence on later generations of Renaissance artists. Donatello was the leading sculptor of the early Renaissance and he created some of the most renowned sculptures in the world including the Bronze David and the Equestrian statue of Gattamelata.
Masterpiece: The Bronze David (1440s)
#3 GIAN LORENZO BERNINI
The Baroque was a very ornate and often profligate style of architecture, art and music that flourished in Europe from early 17th to late 18th century. Baroque sculpture tried to capture active movement of human figures, was meant to be viewed from all angles and was displayed centrally, rather than against a wall. He went on to have a long and illustrious career producing some of the best known sculptures ever created. Bernini was the leading and most renowned sculptor of his age. According to one scholar: “What Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture”.
Masterpiece: Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1652)
#2 AUGUSTE RODIN
Auguste Rodin curved away from the idealism of the “Greeks” and “decorative beauty”; thus, departing from centuries old traditions in the field of sculpture. Instead, he modeled the human body with realism and suggested emotion through his mastery in inter-playing between light and shadow; and through detailed, textured surfaces. Some of his sculptures were so realistic that he was accused of surmoulage, that is having taken a cast from a living model. He is extensively considered the father of modern sculpture and his work “The Thinker” is one of the most renowned sculptures ever created.
Masterpiece: The Thinker (1902)
The “High Renaissance” is a term used to denote the apex of the visual arts in the Renaissance. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, along with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, forms the trinity of great masters of the High Renaissance. He was a “Renaissance man” or “Universal Genius” who shined in numerous fields including painting, architecture, poetry and engineering. However, above all, he is widely regarded as the greatest sculptor of all time. In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino (“the divine one”). After his death, subsequent artists tried to imitate his impassioned, extremely personal style subsequent in Mannerism, the next most important movement in “Western art”.
Masterpiece: David (1504)