Sculpture is any artwork make by the manipulation of materials resulting in a three-dimensional object. The sculpted figure of the Venus that Berekhat Ram, discovered in the Middle east in 1981, days to 230,000 years BCE. That is the oldest example of artwork known. The crudely carved stone figure will certainly fit in the palm of her hand. Its name derives from the similarity in type with so-called female fertility figures uncovered throughout Europe, several of which day to 25,000 year ago. For example, the form of the Venus of Willendorf below reflects remarkable skill in its carving, consisting of arms draped over exaggerated breasts, an extensive abdomen and also elaborate patterning ~ above the head, indicating one of two people a braided hairstyle or kind of woven cap. Simply as remarkable, the number has no facial information to indicate identity. The meaning behind these figures is an overwhelming to put right into context because of the lack of any kind of written record about them or other supporting materials.

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Venus that Willendorf, c.25,000 BCE. Natural background Museum, Vienna. Image in the general public domain

These earliest pictures are indicative of many of the social record in sculpture for thousands of years; singular figurative objects made in ~ an iconographic paper definition of myth, ritual or ceremony. The not till the Old Kingdom period of Egyptian sculpture, in between 3100 and 2180 BCE, that we begin to watch sculpture that mirrors a same of specific figures.

Sculpture have the right to be freestanding, or self-supported, whereby the viewer can walk fully around the work to see it from every sides, or created in relief,where the primary form’s surface is raised above the surrounding material, such together the image on a coin. Bas-relief refers to a shallow expansion of the image from the surroundings, high relief is whereby the most prominent elements of the composition room undercut and also rendered at much more than fifty percent in the round versus the background. Rich, man bas-relief sculpture exists at the Banteay Srei temple close to Angor Wat, Cambodia. Right here humans and also mythic figures integrate in depictions from ancient Hindu stories.


Bas-relief sculpture in ~ the holy place Banteay Srei, Ankgor, Cambodia. Tenth century. Sandstone. Image in the public domain.

The Shaw Memorial combines freestanding, bas-, and high-relief aspects in one masterful sculpture. The job-related memorializes Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and also the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth regiment, the first African American infantry unit come fight because that the north in the civil War.

Sculpture Methods

1. Carving uses the subtractive procedure to reduced away areas from a bigger mass, and also is the oldest technique used for three-dimensional work. Traditionally rock and timber were the most common materials because they to be readily available and incredibly durable. Modern materials incorporate foam and plastics. Using chisels and also other spicy tools, artist carve away product until the ultimate form of the occupational is achieved.

A beautiful instance of the carving procedure is viewed in the Water and also Moon Bodhisattva from tenth-century China. The Bodhisattva, a Buddhist figure who has actually attained enlightenment but decides to stay on earth to teach others, is exquisitely carved and painted. The number is virtually eight feet high, seated in one elegant attitude on a lotus bloom, relaxed, staring directly ahead v a calm, benevolent look. The prolonged right arm and raised knee create a secure triangular composition. The sculptor carves the left eight to simulate muscle tension innate when it supports the load of the body.

In one more example, you can see the high degree of relief carved from an original cedar timber block in the Earthquake Mask from the Pacific Northwest shore Kwakwaka’ wakw culture. That extraordinary because that masks come personify a organic event. This and other mythic number masks are provided in ritual and ceremony dances. The wide areas of paint provide a heightened feeling of character to this mask.


Earthquake Mask, 9” x 7”, at an early stage twentieth century. Kwakwaka’ wakw culture, north American Pacific Coast. Burke Museum, university of Washington, Seattle. Supplied by permission.

Wood sculptures by modern-day artist Ursula von Rydingsvard are carved, glued and also even burned. Numerous are massive, turbulent vessel forms that carry the visual evidence of their creation.

Michelangelo’s masterpiece statue of David from 1501 is carved and sanded come an idealized kind that the artist releases indigenous the substantial block, a testament to human being aesthetic brilliance.


Michelangelo, David, 1501, marble, 17 feet high. Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence. Image in the general public domain

2. Casting has been in use for much more than five thousands years and also is occasionally termed a replacement or substitution process. It’s a process by i beg your pardon a liquid product is generally poured into a mold, which contains a hole cavity of the desired shape, and also then permitted to solidify. One traditional method of bronze spreading frequently provided today is the lost wax process. A mold is do from an artist’s original wax sculpture the is melted far to create a an adverse cavity into which molten metal is poured. Traditionally, spreading materials are usually metals, however, castle can likewise be various cold-setting materials such as epoxy, concrete, plaster, and clay. Casting can be provided for making complicated shapes that would certainly be otherwise an overwhelming or uneconomical to make by various other methods. It’s a labor-intensive procedure that sometimes permits for the creation of multiples native an initial object (similar come the tool of printmaking), every of i beg your pardon is extremely sturdy and nearly exactly like its predecessor. Traditionally, copper statues were placed atop pedestals to denote the importance of the figure depicted. A frostbite of wilhelm Seward (below), the U. S. Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and also who negotiated the purchase of the Alaska territories, is collection nearly eight feet high so viewers have to look up in ~ him. Standing alongside the globe, he holds a roll of to plan in his left hand.


Richard Brooks, William Seward, bronze on rock pedestal, c. 1909. Picture by Christopher Gildow. Supplied with permission.

More modern-day bronze actors sculptures reflect their topics through different cultural perspectives. The statue of absent guitarist Jimi Hendrix is set on the ground, his figure cast as if performing on stage. He is on both of his knees, head thrown back, eyes shut and mouth open up in mid wail. His bell-bottom pants, frilly shirts unbuttoned halfway, necklace and also headband give us a photo of 1960s rock society but also engage us with the topic at our level.


Daryl Smith, Jimi Hendrix, 1996, bronze. Broadway and Pine, Seattle. Image by Christopher Gildow. Provided with permission.

Doris Chase was likewise a solid sculptor. Her massive abstract work Changing Form from 1971 is cast in bronze and dominates the area roughly it. The title refers to the visual experience you get walking roughly the work, seeing the positive and an adverse shapes dissolve and recombine with each other.


Doris Chase, Changing Form, 1971. Bronze. Image through Christopher Gildow. Used with permission.

3. Modeling is a method that can be both additive and also subtractive. The artist supplies modeling to construct up type with clay, plaster or other soft product that deserve to be pushed, pulled, pinched or poured right into place. The material then hardens right into the finished work. Larger sculptures created with this method make use of an armature, one underlying framework of wire that sets the physical form of the work. Back modeling is mostly an additive process, artists execute remove product in the process. Modeling a form is frequently a preliminary action in the casting method. In 2010, Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man (c. 1955), a bronze sculpture first modeled in clay, collection a record for the highest price ever paid for a work-related of art at auction.

4. Construction, or Assemblage, provides found, produced or changed objects to construct form. Artist weld, glue, bolt and wire individual pieces together. Sculptor Debra Butterfield transforms throw away objects into abstract sculptures of horses with scrap metal, wood and also other uncovered objects. She frequently casts these constructions in bronze.

Louise Nevelson used cut and shaped piece of wood, gluing and also nailing them together to kind fantastic, complex compositions. Painted in a single tone, (usually black color or white), she sculptures space graphic, textural façades of shapes, patterns, and shadow.

Traditional african masks often incorporate different materials. The elaborate Kanaga Mask from Mali provides wood, fibers, pet hide and also pigment to construct an various other worldly visage that transforms from person to pet and back again.

Some modern and modern sculptures combine movement, light and sound. Kinetic sculptures use ambient wait currents or motors enabling them come move, transforming in kind as the viewer stands in place. The artist Alexander Calder is famed for his mobiles, whimsical, abstract works that space intricately well balanced to relocate at the little wisp of air, while the sculptures that Jean Tinguely room contraption-like and, comparable to Nevelson’s and also Butterfield’s works, constructed of scraps often uncovered in garbage dumps. His motorized works exhibition a mechanical aesthetic as they whir, rock and generate noises. Tinguely’s most renowned work,  Homage to new York, ran in the sculpture garden at new York’s Museum of contemporary Art in 1960 as component of a power by the artist. After several minutes, the work exploded and recorded fire.

The idea that generating sound as component of three-dimensional works has been utilized for numerous years, traditionally in musical tools that bring a spiritual reference. Modern artists usage sound come heighten the impact of sculpture or to direct recorded narratives. The actors bronze fractional by George Tsutakawa (below) supplies water circulation to create a soft rushing sound. In this circumstances the sculpture likewise attracts the viewer through the movement of the water: a clear, fluid addition to an otherwise difficult abstract surface.


George Tsutakawa, Fountain. Bronze, running water. City that Seattle. Image through Christopher Gildow. Used with permission.

Doug Hollis’s A Sound Garden from 1982 creates sounds from hollow steel tubes atop gridlike structures rising over the ground. In weathervane fashion, the tubes swing right into the wind and also resonate to certain pitch. The sound expand the aesthetic value of the job-related to encompass the feeling of hear and, in addition to the steel construction, creates a mechanical and also psychological basis because that the work.

Installation Art

Dan Flavin is among the very first artists to check out the possibilities of light as a sculptural medium. Due to the fact that the 1960s his work has actually incorporated fluorescent bulbs of various colors and in assorted arrangements. Moreover, that takes advantage of the wall an are the irradiate is projected onto, precise blurring the line in between traditional sculpture and the more complicated medium of installation.

Installation art uses multiple objects, regularly from various mediums, and also takes up whole spaces. It have the right to be share or website specific. Because of their relative complexity, installations can attend to aesthetic and also narrative concepts on a larger scale than timeless sculpture. That genesis can be traced to the Dada movement, ascendant after human being War I and which predicated a brand-new aesthetic through its unconventional nature and ridicule of developed tastes and styles. Sculpture come off the pedestal and began to transform whole rooms into works or art. Cut Schwitters’ Merzbau, started in 1923, transforms his apartment into an abstract, claustrophobic space that is at once part sculpture and architecture. V installation art the viewer is surrounding by and can become component of the job-related itself.

British artist Rachel Whiteread’s installation Embankment from 2005 fills an entire exhibition hall with casts do from various sized boxes. At first appearance a snowy hill landscape navigated by the viewer is in reality a huge nod to the idea of boxes together receptacles of storage towering above and stacked roughly them, squeezing them in the direction of the center of the room.

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Rachel Whiteread, Embankment, 2005. Source: Wikipedia, license is granted through an innovative Commons

Ilya Kabakov mixes together a narrative of politics propaganda, humor and mundane existence in his installation The male Who Flew into an are from His Apartment from 1984. What we check out is the stays of a little apartment plastered v Soviet era posters, a little bed and also the makeshift slingshot a guy uses come escape the drudgery the his life in ~ the system. A gaping hole in the roof and also his shoes on the floor space evidence sufficient that that made it right into space.