|Sculpture is any three-dimensional form created as an
artistic expression. Sculpting is the art of assembling or shaping an
object. It may be of any size and of any suitable material. The artist
who does this is called a sculptor.
Sculpture is among the oldest of the arts. Even before painting on cave
walls, early humans fashioned shapes from stone. From these beginnings,
artefacts have evolved to their current complexity. The point at which
they become art is for the beholder to decide. In any case, sculpture
should be placed among the greatest of human achievements.
Michelangelo, 1475-1564: So famous that he is known by
a single name, instead of his full title ‘Michelangelo di Lodovico
Buonarroti Simoni’. The original “Renaissance man”, Michelangelo was
also a painter, poet, architect and engineer. He lived in Florence
(Firenze), where the Medici family were important patrons of the arts at
the time. His first important piece was his ‘Pieta’ in 1487, and his
masterpiece was ‘David’, a 4.3 metre male nude in Carrara marble,
currently exhibited at the Uffizi Gallery in Firenze.
Henry Moore, 1898-1936: the best known English modern
sculptor and one of the most important artists of the 20th century.
Moore’s semi-abstract stone figures are instantly recognisable and sell
for huge sums: his “Reclining Figure: Festival”, created in 1951 sold
for £19.1 million after his death.
|Alberto Giacometti, 1901-1966: An
Italian-Swiss painter and sculptor, famous for his Surrealist
sculptures, some influenced by primitive art, but others like
architectural models. In the 1950s he produced his celebrated
representations of human forms as isolated attenuated figures. In 1962
Giacometti won the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale. In
2015 his figure “L’Homme au doigt (Pointing Man) sold for US $141.3
million. Another of his pieces, “L’Homme qui marche 1” (Walking Man 1)
was shown on the 100 Swiss Franc banknote.
Barbara Hepworth, 1903-1975: English artist and
sculptor well known for her modern abstract pieces, many being figures
in stone with holes pierced through them. Hepworth was married to the
painter Ben Nicholson, and lived and worked in St Ives on the Cornish
coast of England for many years. She was a friend and colleague of Henry
Jean Tinguely, 1925-1991: a Swiss painter and sculptor
educated in Basel but working in Paris, and best known for his
“metamechanics” – sculptural machines and kinetic art pieces. His best
known work is “Homage to New York” in the Museum of Modern Art in New
Famous pieces of sculpture
Easter Island Moai, 1250-1500: hundreds of stone
figures carved by the Rapa Nui people on the Polynesian Easter Island
and somehow transported from the quarry where they were sculpted to
their standing position, near the coast but facing inland. With
over-large heads and no legs, the tallest of the 887 figures is almost
10 metres (33 feet) and weighs 82 tons (74,000 kgs). Archaeologists
believe the figures to be symbols of religious and political power,
representing the ancestors of the artists.
The Elgin Marbles: More properly the “Parthenon
Marbles”, but better known by the name of Lord Elgin who had them
removed between 1801 and 1812 and transported to Britain, where they
remain in the British Museum, in defiance of Greece’s demands for their
return. The classical marble statues were made by the Greek sculptor
Phidias and his assistants in the 5th century BC for the temple of
Athena on the Acropolis in Athens.
Gargoyles: when building gothic cathedrals, stonemasons
would decorate rainwater spouts and the tops of pillars with often
grotesque figures of people or animals. Medieval gargoyles might be
representations of monks or devils, and the masons seem to have had
licence to create them humorously to their own designs. Notre Dame de
Paris is a cathedral known for its gargoyles.