20. Modern and Contemporary Sculptors

Increasingly, since the Renaissance, oil paintings on canvas have come to be thought of as the typical artwork - the most important medium, next to which sculpture (along with other important media - see section 22) has been seen as a secondary activity. Sculpture is even at times considered to be, in the words of one modern painter, 'something you bump into when stepping back for a better view of a painting.' Clearly this view is unfair.

Sculpture - the making of three-dimensional objects - appears to be an activity as old as, if not older than, flat image-making among human beings, and one which, having produced examples that survive better from antiquity than paintings, exercised the greatest influence on artists from the Renaissance and after - painters included.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries sculpture was admittedly more subject than painting to academicism, providing as it could grand monuments and statuary. Yet in the modern period artists returned to sculpture both as a route to authentic traditionalism (note Henry Moore's or Adam-Tessier's relationship to Egyptian, classical and other ancient sculpture) and conversely as a route forward from familiar artistic modes into the bizarre or challenging (see Tinguely's machines or Mark Prent's shocking 'environments').