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Elements & Techniques of Sculpture

human head winged lion

What is sculpture?

The word sculpture originates from the Latin word sculpere, which means 'to carve'. It can be defined as the art or practice of creating three-dimensional forms or figures.

Sculptures can be free-standing o 'in the round' (able to be viewed from all sides) or they can be in relief (form is carved or modeled from a flat background plane). They can be made of almost any organic or inorganic substance. Common materials include bronze, plaster, clay, wood, papier maché, and plastic. The processes involved in creating sculptures date back to antiquity and, until the twentieth-century, have changed very little. However, the twentieth-century has brought new ideas, techniques, and materials to the art of sculpture, making them even more common to encounter in our everyday lives.



Dating from pre-historic times, carving is a process in which the artist subtracts or cuts away from a solid material to reach the desired form. It can be a very painstaking and time consuming method because of the hard and weighty materials, such as marble or other stones, that are often used. However, artists also carve softer substances such as wood and even soap.


Modeling is the process of manipulating soft materials to create a three-dimensional form. Unlike carving, modeling requires soft substances that can be easily and rapidly shaped by the sculptor's hands. Clay is the most frequent material used for modeling; however, others such as plaster, papier-maché, and wax are also common.


Casting is a method of obtaining the permanence of a modeled work by making a mold and casting it in a durable material such as bronze. Two methods of casting are used: sand casting and the cire-perdue or "lost wax" process. The lost-wax process is more widely used; however, both have been frequently employed since antiquity.

Construction and Assemblage

Emerging in the twentieth-century, the techniques of assemblage and construction consist of combining and joining various materials to form a three-dimensional object. These methods originated from the technique collage, which was popularized by the Cubists during the early part of the twentieth century.


Source: cantorfoundation.org

Other links:

Charles Théodore Frère

Famous Picturs Of Rudolf Ernst


Nicolai Fechin

Luis José

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