How to collect sculptures
Buying art is an investment, and with each medium, new factors must be considered before adding a work of art to your collection. Known for their endless potential and sometimes monumental size, sculptures can present a challenge for both experienced art collectors and novices alike. Read on to learn the medium’s key terms, techniques, and presentation tips to help you collect sculpture with confidence.
About the medium
Sculpture is possibly the oldest known art form. Some ivory figures discovered in Germany are estimated to be 40,000 years old. Figurative sculpture flourished in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, but it was the lifelike ancient Greek sculptures that influenced European Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Donatello. Since then, artists have explored the limitless potential of three-dimensional space and explored the performance, conceptual, and emotional abilities of sculpture.
terms and techniques
When we think of sculpture, we often think of freestanding pieces – these are called “Sculpture in the round“,” in contrast to reliefthat protrude from a two-dimensional surface and are common mounted on the wall. All sculptural building processes can be described as subtractive (carving or chipping of materials) and additive (add materials or build up):
- Model refers to the construction of a mold from malleable materials such as clay for a ceramic work of art or wax used in casting.
- casting involves creating one Mold, often around a wax model which is then melted out so the mold can be filled with molten bronze, resin, glass or clay. Molds are often reused to make multiple sculptures.
- carvingperhaps the oldest and most accessible process, involves simply cutting or chopping into a material to achieve the desired shape.
- Assembly most commonly refers to the combining of found objects into a new work of art. Kinetic SculpturesWorks of art like Alexander Calder’s are also created by carefully assembling parts to create a moving work of art.
One of the most impressive aspects of the sculpture is the durability of its materials – pieces of bronze, stone, metal and wood used millennia ago are still intact, and artists continue to draw on the same materials today.
Marble was one of Michelangelo’s favorites, but so were others stones Nowadays, materials such as soapstone and alabaster are often used because they are easy to shape and widely used. Because of its fibrous nature Wood is another strong material that can be carved into shapes even thinner than stone; However, due to its porosity, most wooden sculptures are designed for indoor display.
metals Bronze (a favorite of Auguste Rodin), gold, aluminum and iron are commonly used to create detailed works of varying sizes. They can be cast, welded or hammered to achieve the artist’s desired result.
volume is perhaps the most widespread material and is used to make pottery. glass sculpture is often made by glassblowing, or by swirling, blowing, and reshaping hot molten glass. Clay and glass are relatively delicate materials and should be presented accordingly.
Contemporary artists are increasingly thinking about it environmental impact of arttherefore, we also saw an increase in the use of found items and natural materials to create sculptures that are either intended to be preserved or to deteriorate over time.
Popular styles and themes
Some of the most famous sculptures in history depict the human form Venus de Milo to Michelangelo David. Recurring nudes, animal forms, and depictions of nature from antiquity to modern times testify to Western art’s constant goal of capturing the ideal in material form. Many contemporary artists continue this tradition, creating timeless representations of the body, often in materials as timeless as bronze or stone.
Although sculpture is known for its ability to represent, with the advent of modernism it also became a source of conceptual, geometric and abstract art. Summaries and geometric elements are particularly popular with collectors as they can transfer color and texture into real space – art doesn’t have to stick to the walls! Another favorite among collectors, pop art sculptures feature expressive and irreverent motifs, synthetic colors, and novel production processes like neon and 3D printing that can bring a dose of the unexpected into your home – they’ve also dominated the art market in recent years, with the likes of Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst posting record-breaking auction sales.
When investing in modern sculpture, keep in mind that oversized or made-to-order work may require additional shipping and production time. Also consider whether the materials are suitable for this inside or outside Display and whether your wall or floor can support the weight of the sculpture. In doubt, Contact For more information on shipping and installation requirements, please contact our experienced art consultants.
Although sculpture can require thorough planning, patience pays off when creating durable, timeless objects that will enhance your collection in unconventional ways. Large format sculpture offers the opportunity to display art in overlooked areas of the home, such as the entryway or garden. But your first investment in a sculpture doesn’t have to be large, time-consuming or financial.
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