Rachel J. Allyn-Crane
January 25, 2001
Art History 190W
Rosalind Krauss began her book Passages in Modern Sculpture by discussing the break from neoclassicism made by Auguste Rodin at the end of the ninteenth century. Rationalist theory held that the best sculptural expression for understanding ideas through "temporal development" was relief. Through this frontally-oriented medium, ideas could be brought across to the viewer in an easy to understand format. Rodin instead departed from the idea that the external structure of an object follow directly from the object's meaning. The lack of narrative in the works of Rodin made the meaning of the works unreadable. Krauss argues that Rodin's departure from the tenants of rationalist neoclassicism lead to Modern sculpture.
Yet in the Passages in Modern Sculpture chapter "Tanktotem: welded images," Krauss describes Modern sculpture as turning towards "the two-dimensional of painting." The 'pictorialism' in the works of sculptors such as Anthony Caro comes back to the immediacy of neoclassical reliefs. The return to a more two-dimensional image is based on the need of the sculptors to make work "that is formed by, indeed suffused by, meaning."