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Paul Granlund Bronze Sculptures

Large Modernist Bronze Abstract Figural Sculpture "Family" Wolfgang Behl
Located in Surfside, FL
This is a mid 20th century mod abstract large bronze sculpture by Wolfgang Behl (German/American

20th Century Expressionist Figurative Sculptures


Marble, Bronze

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A Close Look at expressionist Art

While “expressionist” is used to describe any art that avoids naturalism and instead employs a bold use of flattened forms and intense brushwork, Expressionist art formally describes early-20th-century work from Europe that drew on Symbolism and confronted issues such as urbanization and capitalism. Expressionist artists experimented in paintings and prints with skewed perspectives, abstraction and unconventional, bright colors to portray how isolating and anxious the world felt rather than how it appeared. 

Between 1905 and 1920, Austrian and German artists, in particular, were inspired by Postimpressionists such as Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh in their efforts to strive for a new authenticity in their work. In its geometric patterns and decorative details, Expressionist art was also marked by eclectic sources like German and Russian folk art as well as tribal art from Africa and Oceania, which the movement’s practitioners witnessed at museums and world’s fairs.

Groups of artists came together to share and promote the themes now associated with Expressionism, such as Die Brücke (The Bridge) in Dresden, which included Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and investigated alienation and the dissolution of society in vivid color. In Munich, Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a group led by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, instilled Expressionism with a search for spiritual truths. In his iconic painting The Scream, prolific Norwegian painter Edvard Munch conveyed emotional turmoil through his depiction of environmental elements, such as the threatening sky.

Expressionism shifted around the outbreak of World War I, with artists using more elements of the grotesque in reaction to the escalation of unrest and violence. Printmaking was especially popular, as it allowed artists to widely disseminate works that grappled with social and political issues amid this time of upheaval. Although the art movement ended with the rise of Nazi Germany, where Expressionist creators were labeled “degenerate,” the radical ideas of these artists would influence Neo-Expressionism that emerged in the late 1970s with painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente.

​​Find a collection of authentic Expressionist paintings, sculptures, prints and more art on 1stDibs.

Finding the Right figurative-sculptures for You

Figurative sculptures mix reality and imagination, with the most common muse being the human body. Animals are also inspirations for these sculptures, along with forms found in nature.

While figurative sculpture dates back over 35,000 years, the term came into popularity in the 20th century to distinguish it from abstract art. It was aligned with the Expressionist movement in that many of its artists portrayed reality but in a nonnaturalistic and emotional way. In the 1940s, Alberto Giacometti — a Swiss-born artist who was interested in African art, Cubism and Surrealism — created now-iconic representational sculptures of the human figure, and after World War II, figurative sculpture as a movement continued to flourish in Europe.

Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon were some of the leading figurative artists during this period. Artists like Jeff Koons and Maurizio Cattelan propelled the evolution of figurative sculpture into the 21st century.

Figurative sculptures can be whimsical, uncanny and beautiful. Their materials range from stone and wood to metal and delicate ceramics. Even in smaller sizes, the sculptures make bold statements. A bronze sculpture by Salvador Dalí enhances a room; a statuesque bull by Jacques Owczarek depicts strength with its broad chest while its thin legs speak of fragility. Figurative sculptures allow viewers to see what is possible when life is reimagined.

Browse 1stDibs for an extensive collection of figurative sculptures and find the next addition to your collection.