May 18, 2022
By Chelsea Reed
Regal, powerful, elegant, timeless. Those are some of many words you might describe when gazing upon a magnificent bronze statue. The first metal alloy to be mastered by humans, bronze quickly became a desirable material for artists to create their expressions as they saw fit. Bronze sculptures are familiar to us, often seen in school books and television shows. But have you heard these interesting facts before about bronze? Put your knowledge to the test with these fun facts you might not have known before!
Bronze doesn’t rust, but because it’s made from copper it can oxidize. When exposed to the air, bronze will naturally oxidize into a greenish hue on the outside called a patina. These patinas are pretty and can look dignified with age but might weaken the bronze over time. Artists take advantage of this natural phenomenon and add their own manmade patinas to bronze sculptures. These colorful patinas help protect the work of art from natural oxidization.
Before modern glass mirrors became commonplace, mirrors were actually made from bronze! That’s because bronze naturally reflects a shiny surface when it is cast and polished nice and smooth. For centuries, bronze mirrors were prized possessions of rich households living in Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and Japan.
Bronze statues were very important to ancient Greek civilization, but thousands of them had disappeared by the Middle Ages. They were most likely melted down for the value of bronze. What’s left is very few, and most of these Hellenistic statues are preserved in museums today. We probably would not have known much about them had it not been for Roman marble statue lookalikes. The ancient Romans often copied the works of the Greeks out of admiration. Their “fan art” helps us get a better understanding of what the lost bronze Greek sculptures would have looked like.
Because copper and tin are neither magnetic, most bronze sculptures are not magnetic either. However, if the metals are mixed with traces of nickel, cobalt, or some other magnetic material, it is possible to make a magnetic bronze sculpture if an artist wants to. Some modern artists like Vassilakis Takis are doing just that. This artist is currently experimenting with magnetic sculptures in famous museums like The Museum of Modern Art. But if having your bronze sculpture become a hangout for random paper clips and foreign objects isn’t your cup of tea, you need not worry. There are plenty of nonmagnetic sculptures to choose from in the meantime.
Even after thousands of years, bronze reigns as the material of choice for metal monuments today. That’s because bronze naturally expands as it cools in the mold, giving bronze sculptures excellent detail and expression. What’s more, bronze is reasonable to work with and is more durable to the elements, allowing monuments to leave their indelible mark on the masses for decades to come.
If you have never seen a real bronze sculpture up close in person before, now is the time! There are several beautiful bronze treasures in Seaside Art Gallery’s International Miniature Art Show this year. Take a look at the show now to see them before they’re gone! This Miniature Art Show is viewable now through May 28, 2022.
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