Sculptures - Essay Sample

Published: 2024-01-01
Sculptures - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Sculpture
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1408 words
12 min read


To gather essential information to complete this paper, I paid a visit to MFAH Sculpture Garden on Monday 9th, 2020. The main aim was to inspect the three assigned artworks to have a better comprehension of them. They included the Walking Man, Back I –IV, and Houston Triptych. The Walking Man, composed by a French sculptor named Auguste Rodin, is a bronze-medium sculpture. It was produced in 1905 and cast in 1962. It physical dimensions are w154.9 x h214 x d73.7 cm.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Conversely, the Back Series by Henri Matisse is comprised of a sequence of four bas-relief sculptures. They include Back I made in 1909 and cast in bronze 1963, Back II made in 1913 and cast in 1979, Back III composed in 1916-17 and cast in 1963, and Back IV completed 1930 and cast in 1964. Besides, they are Matisse's most monumental and largest scriptures. Lastly, Houston Triptych, made by Ellsworth Kelly in 1986, is an outdoor bronze sculpture that is also installed at MFAH Sculpture Garden. Its flat shapes seem to float unanchored. Besides, this forms an appealing appearance that compliments the surrounding walkways, sculptures, landscaping, and surrounding walls, making a distinct garden view.

Portraying Human Figure

The Walking Man does not only reveal the fascinations of Rodin with partial figures but also his attention in the sculptural denotation of the human figure. For example, revealing both feet of his subject firmly planted on the ground, Rodin tried to illustrate a realistic representation of a man walking. He also desired to depict his movement from the beginning to the end of his journey. Therefore, he generates the impressions of a movement that took different moments to finish.

The Walking Man

Besides, in his Back series, Matisse completed his initial bas-relief in 1909 when he used clay primarily to mold a detailed naturalistic version of a lone female figure. While the woman in his sculpture is observed from behind, her right arm is seen twisted in her back, whereas her left arm is raised to hold the top of a wall positioned in front of her. The details of the sculptures reveal that after some few years later, Matisse re-worked on the female figures in Back II and III. He re-worked on both the ground and figure where he added plaster to some sections that refined Back I in search of the purest and the most reductive expression of the female figure. In his Back IV, Matisse divided the female figure into three symmetrical parts with the woman's spine, hair, and head attached into the startling stripped-down columnar figure.

The Back Series

One of the aspects that describe the connection between The Walking Man and the viewer is the amputated form used by Rodin. It is a figurative work where the author intentionally omits selected body parts of his subjects in a sculpture. It may be observed in two ways that are either the artist decided not to continue with the addition or the elimination of a part of his sculpture's subject. I believe that the impact of the amputated form has a significant role in the viewer and their capacity to understand the sculpture. When people view a human form from sculpture with omitted parts, they may be triggered to think about it with respect to their bodies. Thus, I can claim that when viewers are given a figure without legs and head as in the case with Rodin's The Walking Man, they may impulsively fill in the spaces or complete it using the required parts using the likeness of their image. Thus, the relationship between the sculpture and the viewer is seen through an amputated form that depends on the latter to complete the artwork.

The relationship between the sculpture and the view is also seen with how the Back series is arranged. Arranging them in one wall reduces the sequential monotony through which they are observed. This encourages the viewers to approach the sculptures both as a series and individually. Kelly, on the other hand, made his artwork by utilizing concepts from different forms. Houston Triptych is entirely simple and maybe observed rapidly at a glance. The viewer sees smooth and flat surfaces, which are separated from the space that surrounds it. This aspect of minimalism and flatness makes it difficult to tell the distinction between the background and foreground.

Houston Triptych

In numerous ways, The Walking Man has different Modernism parameters that were evident at the beginning of the 20th century. For instance, its scarred surfaces demonstrate the artist's process where through unusual fragmentation of his subject, he concentrated his attention on the powerful legs of his subject. The use of bronze in sculpture is furthermore modern. Besides, its stance embodies the thrust of modern urban life. Therefore, all these aspects make The Walking Man a modern sculpture.

Matisse, in his sculpture, also used some elements such as experimentation that modern artists utilized to break free of old methods and forms that made their sculptures modern. Around the 1930s, he spent most of his time on diverse experimentation when he returned to Back series. For instance, the ultimate cast composed from a cast of Back III appears to be starkly refined and highlight architectural designs. Remarkably, the struggles of the Back I and II have been smoothened. Conversely, Back IV is similar to most of his works between 1713 and 1917 and has combined sculptural and pictorial aspects. Thus, all the four Back series were distinct plaster bas-reliefs until they were cast in bronze.

Kelly's Houston Triptych is also one of his initial experiments using the wall. He positioned a white panel and two black panels where the former appear to push the latter away, separating them against it. The three two-dimensional shapes alongside the garden wall, alienated by a significant space, are elevated from the wall to offer additional texture. This is extremely unusual, and its impact is to amuse and surprise. Though his work seems platonic perfection, Kelly's abstractions are human-made, natural, and originate from his observation of the real world, which put to practice through experimentation an aspect of modern sculptures.

The Story of the Development of Modern Sculpture

The Walking Man, Back series, and Houston Triptych sculptures all tell the tale of the progress of modern sculpture through how each was developed. For example, through The Walking Man, Rodin presented a rough representation of an artwork as a completed sculpture. Instead of grinding and filling his bronze sculpture as expected, he maintained most of the imperfections and scars on the casting procedure. Besides, he insisted on maintaining most of the rough and incomplete surfaces that provided such ab energy and power to his strong sculpture. His decision not to hind the truth of his work later became the trademark for artworks that were revolutionary in both the execution and vision. It was, furthermore, one of the numerous manners that he influenced the generations of the artists, particularly those who adhered to his footsteps to developing modern sculptures.

Moreover, it may be observed that the Backs series made between 1909 and 1930 had a powerful story to tell about the modern sculptures. Matisse shaped them into simple monumental, forming different perspectives and a sense of transformation. Most modern sculptors, particularly the Americans such as Martin Puryear, Joel Fisher, and Joel Shapiro, have been attempting to realize such perspective and transformation.

Kelly, in his artwork, Houston Triptych, made a tree-shaped sculpture in a subtle dance of form and color. He created a dynamic rhythm by contrasting trapezoidal and triangular shapes and the play of straight and curved edges. Thus, together with the over-saturated one-color panels, he revised the traditional connection between the ground and the sculpture, significantly developing a modern sculpture.


The three artworks observed in MFAH Sculpture Garden were instrumental in the completion of this paper. Although completed by different artists in diverse periods, they illustrate a common them of modernism. The Walking Man and Back series by Rodin and Matisse, respectively, portray the human figure though differently. Besides, each of the three artworks created a relationship with the viewer. While The Walking Man and Houston Triptych were established through the artist's use of amputated form and smooth and flat surfaces, respectively, the Back series' was created through their arrangement. They also tell different stories about the development of modern sculpture through their individual development. Therefore, for anyone with a desire to experience the fascinating observation of these sculptures and learn about them, it is advisable that they also visit MFAH Sculpture Garden.

Cite this page

Sculptures - Essay Sample. (2024, Jan 01). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism