Dancing abstractions in sculpture and clayart



Supine Flames sculpture by Melanie Newcombe

‘Supine Flames’ sculpture by Melanie Newcombe


The radical Cubist art developed at the beginning of the 20th Century by Braques and Picasso was one of the first forms of abstract art. The Cubists challenged conventional forms of representation, such as perspective, which had been the rule since the Renaissance. Their aim was to develop a revolutionary new way of seeing which reflected the streamlined modern age.

Picassos realisation in 1907 that African art had a deeper mission to give expression and form to an artists subconscious forces, in order to confront and conquer their inner fears, stands as one of the motivating factors that triggered the beginning of abstract art. The Cubists inspired many other artists around the same time to break free from the constraints of established art, which had remained the same for centuries. Matisse was also capturing a serenity through simplification of ideas and form, believing details lessened the purity of lines and harmed the emotional intensity. Brancusi was approching his art on a similar tragectory, where he belived the mind recognised form with a more minimalist perspective and saw movement as a flash of spirit, stripped of unessecary detail. Intuitive perception didn’t require too much cumbersome detail to grasp the form of a subject, as it had already filled in the spaces ahead of the intellect.


‘Joy of Dance’   Dan McDermott


Similarily, at the beginning of the 20th century, dance was also undergoing a revolution with the promotion of a spontaneous avant garde style of modern dance. Isadora Duncan was one of the key proponants during the early 1900’s, who toured Europe and America, believing dance to be a luminous expression of the soul. She wasn’t enthralled by the strict disiplines enacted by the European ballet schools and intitially rejected there routines in favour of a more free form dance style. “The beauty of a moving figure lies in its intention, and not in the expertness of its gymnastic.” Other creative dancers like Loi Fuller and Josephne Baker were also touring Europe during this era, promoting free spirited dance expressions of raw, unhinibited movement. Up to the 20th century, theatrical dance was by and large, content to be associated with dramatic spectacles of storytelling.

The evolution of abstract art converged with the introduction of avant garde dance performances at this time, where the shape, energy and rhythm of the expressive powers of dance were conveyed in a more minimalistic manner while combined with poetic abstractions. The risk, chaos and unpredictability of the abstract reflected the motion of dance movement, especially if it was synchopated, free form avant-garde or trance oreintated. The utilisation of line, textures and space in abstract, stylised and semi abstract art adapted nicely to the spirit of artistic dynamic motion.

In this post I am examining the abstract styles in sculpture and ceramic forms and decorations that allude to a free and sponataeous aesthetic conveying the expression of movement, rythym and dance.



Henri Matisse--Project for- The-Strana Forandola


Henri Matisse–‘Project for The Strana Forandola’




Clement Massier Ceramic Charger,-La Danse---Macklowe Gallery

Clement Massier ceramic lustre Charger, ‘La Danse’

Macklowe Gallery



Philippe-Hiquily-La-Traviata recliing female absdtract sculpture

Philippe Hiquily- ‘La Traviata’



Ivana Batalo sculpture

Ivana Batalo sculpture



Keith Calder -- Faith nude dancing couple

Keith Calder — ‘Faith’ nude dancing couple



Alexander Archipenko ourdoor-bronze-sculpture

Alexander Archipenko ourdoor bronze abstract sculpture



Aurelio Lebrato abstract sculpture

Aurelio Lebrato abstract sculpture



Antònia Palau Casañé entwined sculpture

Antònia Palau Casañé Abstract figurative Young Lovers Kissing



Zhan Wang

Zhan Wang



Yunghsu-Hsu groovy dance sculpture

Yunghsu Hsu groovin’ dance sculpture



Bronze dancers-2005 by Heather McFarlane

Bronze dancers 2005 by Heather McFarlane



Tyra Lundgren ceramic panel for Gustavsberg

Tyra Lundgren ceramic panel for Gustavsberg



Saad Romany Mikhaiel Mosaic Art painting

Saad Romany Mikhaiel painting with mosaic texture



New Eurybia Sculpture---Peter Mandl

‘New Eurybia’ Sculpture—Peter Mandl




Peter Mandl--Gryningen bronze sculpture

Peter Mandl — ‘Gryningen’ bronze sculpture



Elena Sudakova-as-model--Solve Sundsbo---Invitation to the dance

Elena Sudakova — photo by Solve Sundsbo—Invitation to the dance series



Two Bronze female figure Sculptures-Gilbert Franklin

Two Bronze female figure Sculptures – Gilbert Franklin




Mia Tyson bottle




Street dance expression

Teyana Taylor by Sasha Samsonova



Torso by Elizabeth Catlett

‘Torso’ by Elizabeth Catlett, USA



The Dyad---Twin Souls-Beverly Morrison

The Dyad—Twin Souls by Beverly Morrison



The Dancers, Woodcut, 1939---Charles Turzak

‘The Dancers’, Woodcut, 1939—Charles Turzak


The cosmorama-iv--Jean Dubuffet

‘The cosmorama IV’–Jean Dubuffet


Outdoor Tango-sculpture by-Larry-Young

‘Tango’ sculpture by Larry Young


Solar Woman,' Lighting Sculpture by Isabelle Masson Faure, 1980

‘Solar Woman’,’ Lighting Sculpture by Isabelle Masson Faure




Stunning-crystalline glaze Vase---Jen Stein

Abstract crystalline glaze Vase—Jen Stein


Stone monument in Tjentište

Brutalist stone monument in Tjentište



Bronze Tango Dancer

Bronze Tango Dancer



Picasso — ‘Femme aux bras ecarte’



Vintage Inca vessel


IngridSaag-Salsa vase-2006

Ingrid Saag -‘Salsa’ vase

2006, UK



Isobel Folb_Sokolow Dancer_II_2_l-1985

Isobel Folb Sokolow –  Dancer II




Italian alabaster sculptures-of-females by artist Marie Jos e Leroux

Italian alabaster sculpture  ‘Aylya’ – Marie Jos e Leroux

Height 36cm

Arts Parks



Jitterbugs-Weaver Hawkins-1945 cubist dancers

Jitterbugs – Weaver Hawkins




Kawai Kanjiro---Bird Flat ceramic vessel

Kawai Kanjiro— ‘Bird Flat’ ceramic vessel



Bill Wadman---Dancers in Motion

Bill Wadman—‘Dancers in Motion’



King-For-Natasha-National Museum of Women in the Arts- Ursula von Rydingsvard, 'The Contour of Feeling'

Ursula von Rydingsvard, ‘The Contour of Feeling’







Large Interior Form---Henry Moore,-1953-1954

‘Large Interior Form’—bronze sculpture — Henry Moore



Niki de Saint Phalle mirror mosaic sculpture

Niki de Saint Phalle mirror mosaic sculpture




Caroline Lee,-Maquette for Monument to the Resistance

Caroline Lee, Maquette for Monument to the Resistance



Large Lidded Jar by Ralph Bacerra

Large Lidded Jar by Ralph Bacerra



Large Mata Ortiz Pottery Vase

Large Mata Ortiz Pottery black and orange Vase



Ambacht Haalderen-AMHA-dancing figures-Netherlands

Ambacht Haalderen – AMHA dancing figures




Jenny Orchard mutant sculpture

Jenny Orchard – ‘A vegetarian cannibal’



Alied Nijp Holman---'Aphrodite'

Alied Nijp Holman—‘Aphrodite’


Catalo Josée-On the ice wire sculpture

Catalo Josée- ‘On the ice’



Eros Volusia by Hart Preston-1941

Dancer Eros Volusia by Hart Preston




Alexander Archipenko,-La Danse-(Dance),-1912

Alexander Archipenko, ‘La Danse’ (Dance)




René-Buthaud naked dancer motif vase

René Buthaud naked dancer motif vase



Hal Fromhold-California Studio Pottery Ceramics-People Wall Sculpture

Hal Fromhold-California Studio Pottery Ceramics – People Wall Sculpture



Glass mosaic art made by-Kashena Hottinger

Glass mosaic Owl Panel by Kashena Hottinger



Gerald Trottier - The Pilgrimage of Man Mosaic

Gerald Trottier – ‘The Pilgrimage of Man’ mosaic mural

Carleton University



Frederick Weinberg-Pair of Abstract Wall Sculptures,-Mid-Century

Frederick Weinberg-Pair of Abstract Wall Sculptures




Alexander Yakovlev photo

Elena Solomyanko, Vaganova Ballet Academy

Alexander Yakovlev photo



Ceramic -VaseEnigma-4-hotpaellaValenciaSpain12inch

Ceramic  Vase ‘Enigma 4′-hotpaella

Valencia, Spain H12inch



Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti




Vallauris, “Monika” sculpture by Jacotte & Roger Capron



Atalanta and Hippomenes--Jean Costeau1958

‘Atalanta and Hippomenes’ — Jean Cocteau





‘Dancer’ abstract wall mural  by Alfonso Muñoza



Dolorosa Sinaga foil sculpture--Indonesia

Dolorosa Sinaga foil sculpture–Indonesia



Larissa Smagarinsky--The Song-fibreglass resin sculpture

Larissa Smagarinsky– ‘The Song’ fibreglass resin sculpture

Mosman Gallery



Stoneware Bottle Form by California Ceramist Doug Lawrie - Lisa Cliff Collection

Stoneware Bottle Form by California Ceramist Doug Lawrie

Lisa Cliff Collection


Dancing in Tango Abstract Sculpture by Mike Walsh

‘Dancing in Tango’ Abstract Sculpture by Mike Walsh



Edward Maracek-Starlight Star Bright-1950

Edward Maracek- ‘Starlight Star Bright’




Dumler-and-Breiden-vase and jug,-Mark-on-the-Bottom,-Germany,-circa-1955

Dumler and Breiden vase and jug

Germany, circa 1955


A figurative relief sculpture of a ballet dancer in arabesque pose by Colorado artist, Eric Bransby



Jenny-Orchard-abstract vase

Jenny Orchard



Blue Dancer_-Alexander Archipenko

‘Blue Dancer’ – Alexander Archipenko




Barbara Hepworth,-ORPHEUS-(MAQUETTE-II)

Barbara Hepworth, ORPHEUS (MAQUETTE-II)




Statue of Icarus by Marcello Mascherini in the Sala di Icaro, designed by the architect Giuseppe Pagano---1939 Biennial

Statue of Icarus by Marcello Mascherini in the Sala di Icaro, designed by the architect Giuseppe Pagano—1939 Milan Biennial



Ceramic dancer figure-Edouard-Cazaux

Ceramic dancer figure-Edouard Cazaux, France



Solano (1958) Glazed stoneware by Peter Voulkos. Photo by M. Lee Fatherree. Courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California

‘Solano’ (1958) Glazed stoneware by Peter Voulkos. Photo by M. Lee Fatherree.

Oakland Museum of California


Sgraffito snake pot--Eleuterio Pinat

Sgraffito snake pot–Eleuterio Pinat



Jiubka Kirilova_Fire Dance

Jiubka Kirilova  – ‘Fire Dance’




Sascha Brastoff-MINOS LARGE-footed Egg Dome

Sascha Brastoff ‘MINOS LARGE’  footed Egg Dome



Sandra Wray large ceramic vessel-Art ZA

Sandra Wray large ceramic vessel

Art ZA



Raoul Larche-Loe FULLER

Raoul Larche – Loe FULLER Nouveau figure lamp



Loie Fuller-Serpentine Dance----ca. 1900

Loie Fuller – ‘Serpentine Dance’

ca. 1900


Pushed and Pulled_Denis John Rafman

‘Pushed and Pulled’  — Denis John Rafman



Rudy Autio abstract figure sculpture

Rudy Autio abstract figure sculpture



Ceramic Spherical Table Lamp with Dancing Figures by Tye of California

Ceramic Spherical Table Lamp with Dancing Figures by Tye of California




Paul Jackson--Paul Jackson---Large Twisted Life Vase-Penwith-Gallery

Paul Jackson— ‘Large Twisted Life Vase’

Penwith Gallery



Pauline Ohrel-female wire sculpture

Pauline Ohrel – female wire sculpture



Pablo Picasso---The Dancer---1942

Pablo Picasso — ‘The Dancer’—1942



Pablo Picasso, Flute Player and Dancer, 1947, (white earthenware, painted with enamels, glazed)

Pablo Picasso, ‘Flute Player and Dancer’, 1947

(white earthenware, painted with enamels, glazed)



mid centuryabstract -sculptural lamp

Mid century ceramic abstract sculptural lamp



Monika-Debus ceramic sculpture

Form 2017 – Monika-Debus



Carlton F Ball sgrafitto tri lug vase

Carlton F Ball sgrafitto tri handle vase




Mid-Century Mod Burnt Wood Witco Style Sculpture---Cecil-By SuZanna Anna-@-Atomic Lodge etsy

Mid-Century Mod Burnt Wood Witco Style Sculpture—‘Cecil’ By SuZanna Anna

@-Atomic Lodge etsy



Marcello Fantoni–bottle with abstract dancer



Lisa Hammond ceramic bottle

Lisa Hammond ceramic ovoid bottle with abstract motive




Lena Arice Lucas,-Abstract Sculpture-An Understanding

Lena Arice Lucas,  Abstract Sculpture – ‘An Understanding’



HARSA-Monumental Vase Amphora Israeli Design-Art-Studio-Pottery-Ceramics-Modern-Stoneware-Decoration-Israel-60s-Midcentury---

HARSA-Monumental Vase Amphora Israeli Design




  1. Posted October 9, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Robbie, great post with lots of nice work.

  2. curtiss hood
    Posted October 10, 2019 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Another great post!

  3. Judith Kuppersmith
    Posted October 10, 2019 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Your post brought me back to my days as a Juilliard dance student and now to my days of
    paper sculpture making –sometimes using paper clay. These pieces are so very full of
    both going with and going against gravity and as I looked at each of them I felt like I wanted
    to fly!!! Thanks Robbie once again for a great post.

  4. Thijs Nel
    Posted October 15, 2019 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful diversity. Every medium has it’s inbuilt, intrinsic rules and the artist ha to come to terms with what the medium can do and allow. Should one feel uncomfortable in front of a piece of “art”, it is almost certain that the medium was violated.

  5. Ephraim Golan
    Posted March 11, 2024 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I love sculptures

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