Any art in which the depiction of real objects in nature has been subordinated or entirely discarded, and whose aesthetic content is expressed in a formal pattern or structure of shapes, lines and colors. Sometimes, the subject is real but so stylized, blurred, repeated or broken down into basic forms as to be unrecognizable. Sculpture that is partly broken down in this way is called semiabstract. When the representation of real objects is completely absent, as opposed to realistic or figurative sculpture, such art may also be called nonrepresentational or nonobjective, a term first used by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). An abstract element or intention appears in works of art and decoration throughout the history of art, from Neolithic stone carvings onward. But abstraction as an aesthetic principle began in the early 20th century with Braque (1882-1963). Further reading at SCULPTURE GLOSSARY
Brancusi was drawn to the innovative art of Auguste Rodin, from whom he learned that the purpose of sculpture is not merely the representation of the surface of forms but the evocation of the inner force that produces the surface.
His Ecorché, or flayed nude, executed in 1902, is such an accurate study of the male anatomy that it is still used at the medical school in Bucharest.
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), a Romanian sculptor who settled in France, revolutionized the art of sculpture in the 20th century. His work revealed the beauty of pure form in sculpture, but he endowed it with an organic mystery.
When Constantin Brancusi exhibited “Mlle Pogany,” a highly abstracted portrait bust, in the New York Armory Show of 1913, it was one of the most highly ridiculed pieces of work in the exhibit. See VIDEO here.