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March 22, 2018
By Chelsea Reed
Rodin’s The Thinker. Michelangelo’s Pieta. New York City’s Statue of Liberty. These sculptures are just a few of many examples throughout millennia that demonstrate our instinctive desire to create art. Unlike other art forms, the sculpture allows us to experience the artist’s perspective of life for ourselves with all of our five senses. Isn’t sculpture wonderful? Let’s explore the world of sculpture and discover new secrets about this familiar and fascinating art form that most people don’t know about.
The Definition of Sculpture
So what defines a sculpture in the world of art? A sculpture is simply a work of art in the three dimensional. In the past, traditional sculptures focused on human or animal figures made from metal, wood, pottery, glass, or stone. Today, sculptures can be made with almost any kind of material thanks to new tools and technologies. They can represent any subject that the sculptor sees fit, including objects, themes, and abstract ideas.
Sculptors bring their works to life by using one of two ways - subtractive carving and modeling. Subtractive carving removes pieces of material at a time until the desired image is revealed. Artists sometimes call this 'freeing the image' because they often ‘see’ the artwork in the material before carving it. Wood and stone are common materials used for subtractive carving. Jim Carpenter and Carolyn Lloyd Swain are some artists in our gallery who use this fascinating technique.
Modeling a sculpture requires the opposite action for the same result. Instead of removing material, the sculptor shapes it and adds more as needed to create the work of art. You might have done this before at school or art class with clay. Glass and metal are other good materials for modeling. Many artists focus their profession in modeling sculptures, such as potters, glassblowers and metalsmiths. Cathy Kuzma, Joy Croeger Beckner, and Denise Romecki are some modeling artists we feature in our gallery.
Why Create Sculpture?
Archeological digs have uncovered sculptures and statues from long ago, but the reasons why many of them were made are lost with time. We can, however, form a good guess with careful study and observation. Most sculptures from history were public artworks of famous figures and were tied to a religious or commemorative purpose. This idea makes sense, since these monuments usually didn’t have a functional purpose for survival. The mysterious Moai statues of Easter Island is one example. The ancient Moai people made so many of them, they wiped out the island’s resources! And over 800 Moai statues exist on the island to this day.
This curious drive to create sculptures continues to propel us forward into the future. Monumental sculptures, reliefs, free form figures, and even miniature art sculptures have been created to honor an individual or event, represent a specific concept, or just be admired as decoration. Casting, stamping, and molding techniques allow artists to make original copies of their sculptures and allow even more patrons to enjoy this unique and durable form of art.
Chelsea Reed is a freelance copywriter. She writes articles, blogs, websites and online content from her base in North Carolina.
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