Modern Animal Sculptors

Animals have always been important subjects for sculpture. From Egyptian sculptors producing naturalistic representations of cattle, donkeys and hippopotamuses to ancient Chinese sculptors making small-scale animal sculptures in bronze, animals have long since inspired the artist. In 1831 the sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye finally established animal sculpture as a noble art, thanks to his work Tiger devouring a Gavial Crocodile at the Salon de Paris. This animal sculpture led to naturalism and realistic representations of fauna characterizing sculpture of the period, rekindling the importance of nature and striving to meticulously recreate it.  But modern sculpture saw a shift away from realism and the likes of Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso and ­­­­Georges Braque. Abstract art, Cubism and Expressionism influenced modern art and animal sculpture. It isn't surprising that effects of this shift have been seen in more contemporary works like those of Marie Ackers and Philippe Buil. The simplicity of their work may pay homage to 19th century French animaliers like Barye or use bronze and steel to reshape classical forms of animals but other contemporary artists such as Ti'Ou (Virginie Micheleau) use the animal sculpture as a way to highlight environmental action and climate change. With uncertainty around their own future, let's hope animals will forever continue to inspire the artist.

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