This is the work of Elie Nadelman. I have always loved his work for the way he simplifies the forms in the most elegant and sensual way. There is so much movement in his work most obvious in his sculptures of dancers. It is interesting to me because he has strong links to folk art yet folk art which is a kinship I have as well.
These figures are cut from cherry wood and the white you see is gesso which is a mixture of hide glue and marble dust. Gesso is a traditional application to wood sculpture of antiquity yet it would generally be used to cover the entire surface which would then be painted but here it is used in the most desecrate way to create a unique effect.