During the early years of the last century, most of the leading artists of their generation lived and worked in Paris. They regularly exchanged ideas about art, philosophy and humanity and how best to explore the human condition in their paintings and sculptures. The greatest of them were heavily influenced by past visions of humanity as expressed in classical and primitive sculpture from distant parts of the world. In turn, these titans of 20th century art would influence future generations of artists that followed them and continued to focus on the human form in contemporary painting. They were inspired by the idealised human forms of the antique, which they called archaic, and the personification of the supernatural in the abstraction of African art.
Some, like Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol, and perhaps more surprisingly Pablo Picasso, admired and were inspired by the certainty of classical antiquity – those cultures which produced extraordinary sculpture and figural painting that flourished around the Mediterranean littoral in the dawning of the civilised world.
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