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Sculpture is a three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materialstypically stone such as marbleor metal, glass, or wood.

Softer ("plastic") materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals. The term has been extended to works including sound, text and light. Materials may be worked by removal such as carving; or they may be assembled such as by welding, hardened such as by firing, or molded or cast. Surface decoration such as paint may be applied.[1] Sculpture has been described as one of the plastic arts because it can involve the use of materials that can be molded or modulated. Found objects may be presented as sculptures. Sculpture is an important form of public art. A collection of sculpture in a garden setting may be referred to as a sculpture garden.

Types of sculpture
Some common forms of sculpture are: Free-standing sculpture, sculpture that is surrounded on all sides, except the base, by space. It is also known as sculpture "in the round", and is meant to be viewed from any angle.

Sound sculpture-(related to sound art and sound installation) is an intermedia and time based art form in which sculpture or any kind of art object produces sound, or the reverse (in the sense that sound is manipulated in such a way as to create a sculptural as opposed to temporal form or mass). Most often sound sculpture artists were primarily either visual artists or composers, not having started out directly making sound sculpture.

Panopticon: The Singing Ringing Tree

Light sculpture-is a form of visual art where main media of expression is light. Light has been used for architectural aesthetical effects throughout human history. However, the modern concept of light art emerged with the development of artificial light sources and experimenting modern art

Lumino Kinetic (Lighted Art) 13th century window fromChartres Cathedral

Jewelry-is a form of personal adornment, such as brooches,rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets

The Queen Farida of Egypt red coral parure by Ascione manufacture, 1938, Neaples, Coral Jewellery Museum
. Relief the sculpture is attached to a background; types are bas-relief, altorelievo, and sunken-relief. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane.

A Persian mid-relief (mezzo-rilievo) from the Qajar era, located at Tangeh Savashi in Iran, which might also be described as two stages of low-relief.

Site-specific art- is an artwork created to exist in a certain place. Typically, the artist takes the location into account while planning and creating the artwork.

Dan Flavin, Menil collection

Kinetic sculpture involves aspects of physical motion. Contains moving parts or depends on motion for its effect.

a whirligig by Lyman Whitaker

Fountain the sculpture is designed with moving water Mobile (see also Calder's Stabiles.)

modern mobile by Julie frith

Statue representationalist sculpture depicting a specific entity, usually a person, event,animal or object

Michaelangelos david

statue of liberty

Bust representation of a person from the chest up

Bust of Richard Bently by Roubiliac

Equestrian statue typically showing a significant person on horseback

The equestrian Marcus Aurelius on theCapitoline Hill was the prototype forRenaissance equestrian sculptures.
Stacked art a form of sculpture formed by assembling objects and 'stacking' them

Architectural sculpture-is the term for the use of sculpture by an architect and/or sculptor in the design of a building, bridge, mausoleum or other such project.

sculpted pediment

Environmental sculpture-usually creates or alters the environment for the viewer, as opposed to presenting itself figurally or monumentally before the viewer.

Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson from atop Rozel Point, in mid-April 2005

Materials of sculpture through history

The materials used in sculpture are diverse, changing throughout history. Sculptors have generally sought to produce works of art that are as permanent as possible, working in durable and frequently expensive materials such as bronze and stone: marble, limestone, porphyry, andgranite. More rarely, precious materials such as gold, silver, jade, and ivory were used forchryselephantine works. More common and less expensive materials were used for sculpture for wider consumption, including glass, hardwoods (such as oak, box/boxwood, and lime/linden);terracotta and other ceramics, and cast metals such as pewter and zinc (spelter). Sculptures are often painted, but commonly lose their paint to time, or restorers. Many different painting techniques have been used in making sculpture, including tempera, [oil painting], gilding, house paint, aerosol, enamel and sandblasting.[1][2][3]

Many different forms of sculpture were used in Asia, with many pieces being religious art based on Hinduism and Buddhism (Buddhist art) and greco-Buddhist art. A great deal of Cambodian Hindu sculpture is preserved at Angkor, however organized looting has had a heavy impact on many sites around the country. In Thailand, sculpture was almost exclusively of Buddha images. Many Thai sculptures or temples are gilded, and on occasion enriched with inlays. See also Thai art

East Asia

A Liao Dynasty polychrome wood-carved statue of Guan Yin, Shanxi Province, China, (9071125 AD)

The Leshan Giant Buddha,Tang Dynasty, completed in 803. Japanese sculpture . Countless paintings and sculptures were made, often under governmental sponsorship. Most Japanese sculpture is associated with religion, and the medium' use declined with the lessening importance of traditional Buddhism.

Priest Ganjin (Jianzhen), Nara period, 8th century Jch, Amida Buddha, Heian Period, 1053, Byd-in, Kyoto

Central Asia
Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between theClassical Greek culture and Buddhism

Sumerian male worshiper, 2750-2600 B.C.

South Asia

A Nepalese polychromewooden statue of the Malla Kingdom, 14th century. Africa The style, key aesthetic characteristics, materials, and techniques used in the creation of a piece of sculpture reflects the region from which it originates. Sculptures often have unique functions that vary widely from one geographical region to the next.

Ife head, terracotta, probably 1214th centuries

Egypt The monumental sculpture of Ancient Egypt is world-famous, but refined and delicate small works are also a feature. The ancient art of Egyptian sculpture evolved to represent the ancient Egyptian deities pharaohs, royalty, and even servants and staff members, in physical form. Very strict conventions were followed while crafting statues: male statues were darker than the female ones; in seated statues, hands were required to be placed on knees and specific rules governed appearance of every Egyptian deity.
The ka statue provided a physical place for the ka to

manifest. EgyptianMuseum, Cairo

The Americas Sculpture in what is now Latin America developed in two separate and distinct areas,Mesoamerica in the north and Peru in the south. In both areas, sculpture was initially of stone, and later of terracotta and metal as the civilizations in these areas became more technologically proficient.[4] The Mesoamerican region produced more monumental sculpture, from the massive block-like works of the Olmec and Toltec cultures, to the superb low reliefs that characterize theMayan and Aztec cultures. In the Andean region, sculptures were typically small, but often show superb skill.

Olmec head, near Ciudad del Carmen,Mexico

An unadorned figure in Greek classical sculpture was a reference to the status or role of the depicted person, deity, or other being. Athletes, priestesses, and deities could be identified by their adornment or lack of it. The Renaissance preoccupation with Greek classical imagery, such as the 5th century BC. Doryphoros of Polykleitos, led to nude figurative statues being seen as the 'perfect form' of representation for the human body. Subsequently, nudity in sculpture and painting often has represented a form of ideal, be it innocence, openness, or purity. Nude sculptures still are common. As in painting, they often are made as exercises in efforts to understand the anatomical structure of the human body and develop skills that will provide a foundation for making clothed figurative work. Usually, nude statues are widely accepted by many societies, largely due to the length of tradition that supports this form. Occasionally, the nude form draws objections, often by moral or religious groups. Classic examples of this are the removal of the parts of Greek sculpture representing male genitals (in the Vatican collection), and the addition of a fig leaf to a plaster cast of Michelangelo's sculpture of David forQueen Victoria's visit to the British Museum.

Gothic Gothic sculpture evolved from the early stiff and elongated style, still partly Romanesque, into a spatial and naturalistic feel in the late 12th and early 13th century. The architectural statues at the Western (Royal) Portal at Chartres Cathedral (c. 1145) are the earliest Gothic sculptures and were a revolution in style and the model for a generation of sculptors.

Claus Sluter, David and a prophet from the Well of Moses


michaelangelo , "Piet", 1499. Although the Renaissance began at different times in various parts of Europe (some areas created art longer in the Gothic style than other areas) the transition from Gothic to Renaissance in Italy was signaled by a trend toward naturalism with a nod to classical sculpture.

Donatello, David c. 1440s at Bargello Museum, Florence.

One of the most important sculptors in the classical revival was Donatello. The greatest achievement of what art historians refer to as his classic period is the bronze statue entitled David (not to be confused with Michelangelo's David), which is currently located at the Bargello in Florence. At the time of its creation, it was the first free-standing nude statue since ancient times. Mannerist period During the Mannerist period, more abstract representations were praised, (such as the "figura serpentinata" or "twisted figure") giving more thought to color and composition rather than realistic portrayal of the subjects in the piece. This is exemplified in Giambologna's Abduction/Rape of the Sabine Women, where the figures are not positioned in a way which is at all comfortable, or even humanly possible, but the position and emotion still come across.

Giambologna, Rape of the Sabine Women, 1583, Florence, Italy, 13' 6" high,Marble

Barouqe In Baroque sculpture, groups of figures assumed new importance, and there was a dynamic movement and energy of human forms they spiralled around an empty central vortex, or reached outwards into the surrounding space. For the first time, Baroque sculpture often had multiple ideal viewing angles. The characteristic Baroque sculpture added extra-sculptural elements, for example, concealed lighting, or water fountains. Often, Baroque artists fused sculpture and architecture seeking to create a transformative experience for the viewer.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Apollo and Daphnein the Galleria Borghese, Neo-Classical The Neoclassical period (c. 17501850) was one of the great ages of public sculpture, though its "classical" prototypes were more likely to be Roman copies of Hellenistic sculptures.

Antonio Canova, Psyche Revived by Love's Kiss, 1787

Modern classicism
Modern classicism contrasted in ma ny ways with the classical sculpture of the 19th century which was characterized by commitments to naturalism (Antoine-Louis Barye) the melodramatic (Franois Rude) sentimentality (Jean Baptiste Carpeaux)-- or a kind of stately grandiosity (Lord Leighton). Several different directions in the classical tradition were taken as the century turned, but the study of the live model and the postRenaissance tradition was still fundamental to them.

Fragment of the grave of Cyprian Kamil Norwid in the Bards' crypt in Wawel Cathedral, Krakw by sculptor Czesaw Dwigaj

Modern and contemporary art

Modernist sculpture

Gaston Lachaise, Floating Figure 1927, bronze, no. 5 from an edition of 7, National Gallery of Australia

Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts. The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture where in the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture. Postminimalism is an art term coined by Robert Pincus-Witten in 1971[1] used in various artistic fields for work which is influenced by, or attempts to develop and go beyond, the aesthetic of minimalism. The expression is used specifically in relation to music and the visual arts, but can refer to any field using minimalism as a critical reference point.


The term found art more commonly found object (French: objet trouv) or readymade describes art created from the undisguised, but often modified, use of objects that are not normally considered art, often because they already have a mundane, utilitarian function. Marcel Duchamp was the originator of this in the early 20th-century with pieces such as Fountain.

Conceptual art
Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns.


The Spire of Dublin Post modernist and world's tallest sculpture

Contemporary genres
Some modern sculpture forms are now practiced outdoors, as Environmental art and Environmental sculpture, and often in full view of spectators, thus giving them kinship to performance art in the eyes of some. Light sculpture and Site-specific art also often make use of the environment. Ice sculpture is a form of sculpture that uses ice as the raw material. It's popular in China, Japan, Canada, Sweden, and Russia. Ice sculptures feature decoratively in some cuisines, especially in Asia. Kinetic sculptures are sculptures that are designed to move, which include Mobiles. Snow sculptures are usually carved out of a single block of snow about 6 to 15 feet (4.6 m) on each side and weighing about 2030 tons. The snow is densely packed into a form after having been produced by artificial means or collected from the ground after a snowfall. Sound sculptures take the form of indoor sound installations, outdoor installations such as aeolian harps, automatons, or be more or less near conventional musical instruments. Sound sculpture is often site-specific. A Sand castle can be regarded as a sand sculpture. Weightless Sculpture (in outer space) as a concept is created in 1985 by the Dutch artist Martin Sjardijn. Lego brick sculpting involves the use of common Lego bricks to build realistic or artistic sculptures sometimes using hundreds of thousands of bricks. Art toys have become another format for contemporary artists

since the late 1990s, such as those produced by Takashi Murakami and Kid Robot, designed by Michael Lau, or hand-made by Michael Leavitt (artist)

Social status
Worldwide, sculptors have usually been tradesmen whose work is unsigned. But in the Classical world, many Ancient Greek sculptors like Phidias began to receive individual recognition in Periclean Athens, and became famous and presumably wealthy. In the Middle Ages, artists like the 12th century Gislebertus sometimes signed their work, and were sought after by different cities, especially from the Trecento onwards in Italy, with figures like Arnolfo di Cambio, Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni. Many sculptors also practised in other arts, sometimes painting, likeAndrea del Verrocchio, or architecture, like Giovanni Pisano, Michelangelo, or Jacopo Sansovino, and maintained large workshops. From the High Renaissance artists like Michelangelo, Leone Leoni and Giambologna could become wealthy, and ennobled, and enter the circle of princes. Much decorative sculpture on buildings remained a trade, but sculptors producing individual pieces were recognised on a level with painters. From at least the 18th century, sculpture also attracted middle-class students, although it was slower to do so than painting. Equally women sculptors took longer to appear than women painters, and have generally been less prominent until the 20th century at least.

Stone carving
Stone carving is an ancient activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped by the controlled removal of stone. Owing to the permanence of the material, evidence can be found that even the earliest societies indulged in some form of stone work. Petroglyphs (also called rock engravings) are perhaps the earliest form: images created by removing part of a rocksurface which remains in situ, by incising, pecking, carving, and abrading. Monumental sculpture covers large works, and architectural sculpture, which is attached to buildings. Hardstone carving is the carving for artistic purposes of semi-precious stones such as jade, agate,onyx, rock crystal, sard or carnelian, and a general term for an object made in this way. Engraved

gems are small carved gems, includingcameos, originally used as seal rings.

Bronze sculpture
Bronze is the most popular metal for cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply a "bronze". Common bronze alloys have the unusual and desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling the finest details of a mold. Their strength and lack of brittleness (ductility) is an advantage when figures in action are to be created, especially when compared to various ceramic or stone materials

Bronze Chola statue of Nataraja from India at theMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Wood carving
Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool held in the hand (this may be a power tool), resulting in a wooden figure or figurine (this may be abstract in nature) or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object.

Carved wood relief sculpture by Sal Maccarone

Casting is a manufacturing process by which a liquid material is (usually) poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. The solid casting is then ejected or broken out to complete the process.[12] Casting may be used to form hot liquid metals or various materials that cold set after mixing of components (such as epoxies, concrete,plaster and clay). Casting is most often used for making complex shapes that would be otherwise difficult or uneconomical to make by other methods.Casting is a 6,000-year-old process.[13] The oldest surviving casting is a copper frog from 3200 BC.[13] The casting process is subdivided into two distinct subgroups: expendable and non-expendable mold casting.