This final project will ask you to share with us your memories and experience about a particular Public Sculpture in Philadelphia.Philadelphia has more public sculpture than any other city in the nation. However, I wonder how often in our busy lives we even stop to take note. Most likely, you pass by, either in your car, on foot, bike or bus, each day countless examples of public sculpture. This post asks you to make a conscious effort to “notice” a work that has been more or less hiding in plain view in their corner of Philadelphia. While many of us are not free to go about our usual routines right now, we still have memories of what is around us. Choose a work that is near your work, or on the walk to school, or that you remember from a visit to Center City. Do your best to recreate the experience of standing before the object.Work this week to choose a work that you have encountered. Take a photo and paste it into your post. Try to size the photo appropriately and think of a single view that best captures the work. These should only be referred to for informational purposes, e.g. artist, name, and date. Otherwise, this is to be your work.
Having said all that, have fun with this. Do your best to apply the lessons from the reading regarding what type of sculpture you are discussing, casting, carving, modeling, assembling? Address the context or setting and why you think it is there exactly, and apply a theme from week three (Getlein, Living With Art, Chapter 3).Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFTALiSRCXoSculpture: Government of the People
Jacques Lipchitz, 1976 *See attached image400 words
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Reading: Types of Sculpture and
Other Three-Dimensional Media
Sculpture is any artwork made by the manipulation of materials resulting in a
three-dimensional object. The sculpted figure of the Venus of Berekhat Ram,
discovered in the Middle East in 1981, dates to 230,000 years BCE. It is the oldest
example of artwork known. The crudely carved stone figure will fit in the palm of your
hand. Its name derives from the similarity in form with so-called female fertility figures
found throughout Europe, some of which date to 25,000 years ago. For example, the
form of the Venus of Willendorf below shows remarkable skill in its carving, including
arms draped over exaggerated breasts, an extended abdomen and elaborate patterning
on the head, indicating either a braided hairstyle or type of woven cap. Just as
remarkable, the figure has no facial detail to indicate identity. The meaning behind these
figures is difficult to put into context because of the lack of any written record about
them or other supporting materials.
Venus of Willendorf, c.25,000 BCE. Natural History Museum, Vienna. Image in the public domain
These earliest images are indicative of most of the cultural record in sculpture for
thousands of years; singular figurative objects made within an iconographic context of
myth, ritual or ceremony. It’s not until the Old Kingdom period of Egyptian sculpture,
between 3100 and 2180 BCE, that we start to see sculpture that reflects a resemblance
of specific figures.
Sculpture can be freestanding, or self-supported, where the viewer can walk
completely around the work to see it from all sides, or created in relief,where the
primary form’s surface is raised above the surrounding material, such as the image on a
coin. Bas-relief refers to a shallow extension of the image from its surroundings, high
relief is where the most prominent elements of the composition are undercut and
rendered at more than half in the round against the background. Rich, animated
bas-relief sculpture exists at the Banteay Srei temple near Angor Wat, Cambodia. Here
humans and mythic figures combine in depictions from ancient Hindu stories.
Bas-relief sculpture at the temple Banteay Srei, Angor, Cambodia. Tenth century. Sandstone. Image in the public domain.
The Shaw Memorial combines freestanding, bas-, and high-relief elements in one
masterful sculpture. The work memorializes Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the
Massachusetts Fifty-fourth regiment, the first African American infantry unit to fight for
the north in the Civil War.
ses the subtractive process to cut away areas from a larger mass, and is the
oldest method used for three-dimensional work. Traditionally stone and wood were the
most common materials because they were readily available and extremely durable.
Contemporary materials include foam, plastics and glass. Using chisels and other sharp
tools, artists carve away material until the ultimate form of the work is achieved.
A beautiful example of the carving process is seen in the Water and Moon Bodhisattva
from tenth-century China. The Bodhisattva, a Buddhist figure who has attained
enlightenment but decides to stay on earth to teach others, is exquisitely carved and
painted. The figure is almost eight feet high, seated in an elegant pose on a lotus
bloom, relaxed, staring straight ahead with a calm, benevolent look. The extended right
arm and raised knee create a stable triangular composition. The sculptor carves the left
arm to simulate muscle tension inherent when it supports the weight of the body.
In another example, you can see the high degree of relief carved from an original cedar
wood block in the Earthquake Mask f rom the Pacific Northwest Coast Kwakwaka’ wakw
culture. It’s extraordinary for masks to personify a natural event. This and other mythic
figure masks are used in ritual and ceremony dances. The broad areas of paint give a
heightened sense of character to this mask.
Earthquake Mask, 9” x 7”, early twentieth century. Kwakwaka’ wakw culture, North American Pacific Coast. Burke Museum,
University of Washington, Seattle. Used by permission.
Wood sculptures by contemporary artist Ursula von Rydingsvard are carved, glued and
even burned. Many are massive, rough vessel forms that carry the visual evidence of
HOW SHE MAKES THESE
(Links to an external site.)
Michelangelo’s masterpiece statue of David f rom 1501 is carved and sanded to an
idealized form that the artist releases from the massive block, a testament to human
Michelangelo, David, 1501, marble, 17 feet high. Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence. Image in the public domain
2. Casting: The additive method of casting has been in use for more than five thousand
years. It’s a manufacturing process by which a liquid material is usually poured into a
mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify.
One traditional method of bronze casting frequently used today is the lost wax process.
Casting materials are usually metals but can be various cold-setting materials that cure
after mixing two or more components together; examples are epoxy, concrete, plaster,
and clay. These amazing underwater Sculptures by artist Jason deCaires Taylor are
cast in concrete. After the plaster molds are made of actual people.
Casting is most often used for making complex shapes that would be otherwise difficult
or uneconomical to make by other methods. It’s a labor-intensive process that allows for
the creation of multiples from an original object (similar to the medium of printmaking),
each of which is extremely durable and exactly like its predecessor. A mold is usually
destroyed after the desired number of castings has been made. Traditionally, bronze
statues were placed atop pedestals to signify the importance of the figure depicted. A
statue of William Seward (below), the U. S. Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln
and who negotiated the purchase of the Alaska territories, is set nearly eight feet high
so viewers must look up at him. Standing next to the globe, he holds a roll of plans in
his left hand.
Richard Brooks, William Seward, bronze on stone pedestal, c. 1909. Image by Christopher Gildow. Used with permission.
More contemporary bronze cast sculptures reflect their subjects through different
cultural perspectives. The statue of rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix is set on the ground, his
figure cast as if performing on stage. He’s on both of his knees, head thrown back, eyes
shut and mouth open in mid wail. His bell-bottom pants, frilly shirt unbuttoned halfway,
necklace and headband give us a snapshot of 1960s rock culture but also engage us
with the subject at our level.
Daryl Smith, Jimi Hendrix, 1996, bronze. Broadway and Pine, Seattle. Image by Christopher Gildow. Used with permission.
Doris Chase was also a strong sculptor. Her large-scale abstract work Changing Form
from 1971 i s cast in bronze and dominates the area around it. The title refers to the
visual experience you get walking around the work, seeing the positive and negative
shapes dissolve and recombine with each other.
Doris Chase, Changing Form, 1971. Bronze. Image by Christopher Gildow. Used with permission.
3. Modeling is a method that can be both additive and subtractive. The artist uses
modeling to build up form with clay, plaster or other soft material that can be pushed,
pulled, pinched or poured into place. The material then hardens into the finished work.
Larger sculptures created with this method make use of an armature, an underlying
structure of wire that sets the physical shape of the work. The work of clay artist Tip
Tolland is a great example of this technique. You can watch her create in this video.
Although modeling is primarily an additive process, artists do remove material in the
process. Modeling a form is often a preliminary step in the casting method. In 2010,
Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man (c. 1955), a bronze sculpture first
modeled in clay, set a record for the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction.
4. Construction, or Assemblage, uses found, manufactured or altered objects to build
form. Artists weld, glue, bolt and wire individual pieces together. Sculptor Debra
Butterfield transforms throw away objects into abstract sculptures of horses with scrap
metal, wood and other found objects. She often casts these constructions in bronze.
Louise Nevelson used cut and shaped pieces of wood, gluing and nailing them together
to form fantastic, complex compositions. Painted in a single tone, (usually black or
white), her sculptures are graphic, textural façades of shapes, patterns, and shadow.
Traditional African masks often combine different materials. The elaborate Kanaga
Mask from Mali uses wood, fibers, animal hide and pigment to construct an other
worldly visage that changes from human to animal and back again.
Some modern and contemporary sculptures incorporate movement, light and sound.
Kinetic sculptures use ambient air currents or motors allowing them to move, changing
in form as the viewer stands in place. The artist Alexander Calder is famous for his
mobiles, whimsical, abstract w
orks that are intricately balanced to move at the slightest
wisp of air, while the sculptures of Jean Tinguely are contraption-like and, similar to
Nevelson’s and Butterfield’s works, constructed of scraps often found in garbage
His motorized works exhibit a mechanical aesthetic as they whir, rock and generate
noises. Tinguely’s most famous work, Homage to New York, ran in the sculpture
garden at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1960 as part of a performance by the
artist. After several minutes, the work exploded and caught fire.
The idea of generating sound as part of three-dimensional works has been utilized for
hundreds of years, traditionally in musical instruments that carry a spiritual reference.
Contemporary artists use sound to heighten the effect of sculpture or to direct recorded
narratives. The cast bronze fountain by George Tsutakawa (below) uses water flow to
produce a soft rushing sound. In this instance the sculpture also attracts the viewer by
the motion of the water: a clear, fluid addition to an otherwise hard abstract surface.
George Tsutakawa, Fountain. Bronze, running water. City of Seattle. Image by Christopher Gildow. Used with permission.
Doug Hollis’s A Sound Garden from 1982 creates sounds from hollow metal tubes atop
grid-like structures rising above the ground. In weather-vane fashion, the tubes swing
into the wind and resonate to specific pitch. The sound extends the aesthetic value of
the work to include the sense of hearing and, together with the metal construction,
creates a mechanical and psychological basis for the work.
Case Study: Maya Lin
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