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Sculpture is any three-dimensional form created as an artistic expression. Most sculptures serve a purely aesthetic purpose. When a 3-D object has functional as well as artistic aspects, we call it sculpture only if the artistic concerns predominate. When the qualities of an object are well balanced between sculptural and functional, we can call it "functional sculpture."

Consider two teapots. The first one is decorated with stems of roses and leaves. It is perfectly functional; the handle and spout have been balanced and constructed, along with the body and lid of the teapot, for optimal use. This would be a functional object, with artistic additions or attention. The second teapot is shaped completely like a rose. The main body of the teapot is a rose flower, the spout a rosebud extending out on a narrow stem and the handle a complete leaf, perpendicular to the rose, opposite and in the same plane as the rosebud spout. The teapot does not really serve tea; the handle is too delicate and the spout not hollow. It's a sculpture of a teapot.

Some of the forms of sculpture are:

  • Relief - sculpture still attached to a background, standing out from that ground in "High Relief" or "Low Relief" (bas-relief)
  • Free-standing sculpture
  • Mobile (See also Calder's Stabiles.)
  • Statue
  • Bust

Sculpting is the art of assembling or shaping an object. It may be of any size and of an almost infinite number of materials. Traditional sculpting materials are: stone (e.g. marble, limestone, granite), clay (e.g. porcelin, terra-cotta), metal (e.g. bronze, iron, aluminum), and wood. Modern and Contemporary materials include the environment, textiles, glass, sand, water, liquid crystals, many other man-made materials, as well as any found-objects.

Famous sculptors

Kiki Smith

External links:

What are our priorities for writing in this area? To help develop a list of the most basic topics about sculpture, please see sculpture basic topics.