A Brief Guide to Sculpture

A sculpture can take many forms. This is due to the variety of methods employed and materials used in creating the sculpture. The purpose of a particular sculpture is also an influencing factor on the style and material of the piece.

Outdoor Sculptures

Displaying sculptures outside is not a new concept by any means. Ancient rock carvings and monuments have been found all over the world that shows our ancient ancestors had outstanding carving skills. The majority of these early sculptures were displayed around religious or other significant buildings. The tools used for these carvings were extremely underdeveloped according to modern ones, but the admiration for the quality of these sculptures is second only to the length of time that they have survived. Many of the sculptors are completely unknown, but their work has lasted to this day.

Marble has always been a popular material for outdoor sculpture and there are many examples in museums around the world. Less important, but by no means less beautiful, examples of outdoor sculpture from centuries ago can be found outside stately homes, churches and cathedrals. As can those from other types of rock. All of these were created by carving the sculpture from a larger piece of a particular stone.

Other materials that are commonly used for outdoor sculptures are plaster, metal and glass. These are the modern materials that have given sculptors of today a far wider choice of the medium they choose to express themselves. Of course these forms of sculpture are not carved. In most cases they are made from a cast that has been carved out and the molten material is poured into the cask and left to set. Metal sculptors can also use existing pieces of metal and shape them accordingly.

In more recent times, the materials used by a sculptor have only been limited by their imagination.

Indoor Sculptures

The main difference between indoor and outdoor sculptures is usually their size. The materials that can be used are practically the same as those used for outdoor sculptures. Space is one reason that many people who are collecting art obtain indoor items rather than outdoor. Many indoor sculptures are made sculpted from marble or cast in bronze. The climatic changes that an outdoor sculpture is subjected to are far less for those indoors and many more examples of ancient sculptures exist from indoor examples.

In recent centuries, sculptures, or busts, of prominent people were extremely popular. These were, and still are in some cases, displayed on pedestals in the person’s home. The rich and famous often paid for a sculptor to create busts for each of their close family. These are sometimes our only method of knowing what a particular person looked like as the sculptures have outlasted any paintings of the time.

The traditional forms of sculpture that represent people or animals have developed to encompass more abstract forms in recent times. There is often a debate regarding whether modern works of sculpture that have been created from non-traditional materials are actually sculptures at all.

Of course, there are also sculptures that are made not to last for any real length of period at all. Wooden sculptures, for example, are not likely to exist for as long as a marble one of equivalent complexity of size. At the very end of the short lifespan of sculptures are ice sculptures. The work involved in carving these is no less than that used for other more traditional sculptures and they are often no less beautiful. The only problem is they do not last longer than the dinner function that they were commissioned for.


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