Sculpture, an artistic form where hard or plastic materials are worked into three-dimensional art objects. The designs might be embodied in freestanding objects, in reliefs on surfaces, or in situations ranging from tableaux to contexts that wrap the spectator. A tremendous variety of media might be used, including clay, wax, stone, metal, fabric, glass, wood, plaster, rubber, and random “discovered” objects. Materials might be carved, modeled, molded, cast, wrought, welded, sewn, assembled, or generally shaped and combined.
Sculpture is not a fixed term that applies to a permanently circumscribed category of objects or sets of activities. It is, rather, the name of an art that grows and changes and is continually extending the range of its activities and evolving new kinds of objects. The scope of the term was much wider in the second half of the 20th century than it had been only two or three decades before, and in the fluid state of the visual arts at the turn of the 21st century nobody can predict what its future extensions are likely to be.
Certain features which in previous centuries were considered essential to the art of sculpture are not present in a great deal of modern sculpture and can no longer form part of its definition. One of the most important of these is representation. Before the 20th century, sculpture was considered a representational art, one that imitated forms in life, most often human figures but also inanimate objects, such as game, utensils, and books. Since the turn of the 20th century, however, sculpture has also included nonrepresentational forms. It has long been accepted that the forms of such functional three-dimensional objects as furniture, pots, and buildings may be expressive and beautiful without being in any way representational; but it was only in the 20th century that nonfunctional, nonrepresentational, three-dimensional works of art began to be produced.
The two principal elements of sculpture are mass and space. Mass refers to the sculpture’s bulk, the solid bit contained within its surfaces. Space is the air around the solid sculpture, and reacts with the latter in several ways: first, it defines the edges of the sculpture; second, it can be enclosed by part of the sculpture, forming hollows or areas of emptiness; third, it can link separate parts of the sculpture which thus relate to one another across space.
The measure of significance attached to either mass or space in the design of sculpture differs significantly. In Egyptian sculpture and in the majority of the sculpture of the twentieth century artist Constantin Brancusi, for instance, mass is important, and the majority of the sculptor’s thinking was dedicated to shaping a lump of strong material. In twentieth century works by Antoine Pevsner or Naum Gabo, then again, mass is decreased to a minimum, comprising just of transparent sheets of plastic or thin metal poles. The solid form of the components themselves is of little significance; their main function is to create movement space and to enclose space. In works by such twentieth century sculptors as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, the elements of space and mass are treated as more or less equal partners.
Principles of Sculptural Design
Proportion: How sculptors handle proportionality differs impressively. A few (eg. Egyptian stone workers) watched hierarchic non-naturalistic canons of proportion (eg. Divine beings the biggest, Pharaohs next biggest, residents littlest and so forth). Different sculptors have pursued increasingly naturalistic yet similarly iconometric guidelines of proportion. By examination, numerous inborn societies utilize frameworks which – for religious or social reasons – accord more noteworthy size to specific parts of the body (eg. the head). Furthermore, the specific siting of a sculpture may require a special approach to proportionality. For example, a human statue mounted on the top of a tall structure may require a larger upper body to balance the effects of foreshortening when viewed from ground level. (The incredible rococo painter Tiepolo was a master at balancing this impact while making his roof frescos).
Balance: In freestanding figurative sculpture, balance includes two main issues. To start with, the sculptural body must be physically stable – simple enough to accomplish in a crawling or leaning back figure, less simple in a standing statue, particularly if leaning forwards or in reverse. In the event that sculptural body shaky, a base must be utilized. Second, from a compositional viewpoint, the statue must extend a feeling of dynamic or static balance. Without such harmony, excellence is relatively difficult to accomplish.
Scale: This refers, for instance, to the need to make a sculpture tuned in to the size of its environment. Stroll around any significant Gothic house of prayer and watch the extraordinary assortment in the size of the sculpture which decorate the entryways, exteriors and different surfaces. What’s more, certain gatherings of figures, illustrating Biblical scenes, may contain several different scales: the Virgin Mary and Jesus might be comparable in size, while (eg) the Apostles might be littler.