Auguste Rodin, 1907 by Edward Steichen -- a French sculptor. Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture. Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface in clay. Many of his most notable sculptures were roundly criticized during his lifetime. They clashed with the predominant figure sculpture tradition, in which works were decorative, formulaic, or highly thematic.