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Modern Sculpture: A Concise History

af Herbert Read

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Sir Herbert Read traces the development of modern sculpture from Rodin to the present day and brings order into the apparently chaotic proliferation of styles and techniques during this period.
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This is a curious book. The text is problematic. Herbert Read is an interesting figure in cultural history, but I find the historical account here sketchy and the criticism almost valueless. And I say that as someone who is not at all typically dismissive of views "out of the past." But Read makes many contentious aesthetic assertions that I find unhelpful even as spurs to thought. He has no patience for sculpture that is "about" space instead of "about" mass - but it is that tension that has defined modern sculpture, at least in large part. He comes perilously close to stating that almost all post-1950 sculpture except for the work of Henry Moore is depressing junk. (He finds tonier words to say that, of course, but still, the point of view is clear.)

Read has an annoying habit of privileging artists that he knew well personally (Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Eduardo Paolozzi) in his narrative. Moore is a great artist and it is not as if he needs any special pleading, but Read provides it anyway. It all comes across as unpleasantly clubby in the worst British sense. (From an avowed anarchist and the son of a farmer, no less!)

The illustrations are another matter. They are fascinating, but a vast number of the sculptors and pieces, especially in the second half of the volume, are referred to nowhere in the text, or at most in a list. Whoever put this edition together allowed the textual and visual sides of the book to lead separate lives. ( )
  PatrickMurtha | Jun 30, 2013 |
I found this to be a really nice overview. I am a fan of modern sculpture and feel that I now have a deeper understanding of the art. It was very helpful to see how all of these artists interrelated and influenced one another.

What I didn't like was more about the construction of the book. At first, i found that the constant flipping back and forth to refer to photos from earlier pages to be cumbersome, but soon realized that this is the reality of having to discuss a broad range of pieces. I came to peace with it. My frustration reemerged in the latter third of the book because now I was reading pages and pages on one artist (Moore, Hepworth) with photos from other artists who the author never even refers to!

Not the end of the world, I still gave the book 4 stars. I highly recommend it. ( )
  Cygnus555 | Jun 5, 2010 |
Another exceptional overview from the great Herbert Read, who's writing style is involving and ingratiating. A perfect accompaniment to his History of Modern Art, and excellent introduction for those who have yet to grasp the ideas behind Modernism in art. ( )
  mattcbrown | May 30, 2008 |
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Sir Herbert Read traces the development of modern sculpture from Rodin to the present day and brings order into the apparently chaotic proliferation of styles and techniques during this period.

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