Modern Sculpture is known as a phenomenon that lasted from 1860s through the 1970s. During this period artists started breaking old norms and almost reinvented the art status of sculpture. We can mention such talented sculptors as Pablo Picasso, Peter Voulkos, George E. Ohr, and Kenneth Price as being key to this process. They created three-dimensional structures through the combination of disparate objects into a whole. They used various materials, including ceramics, clay, bronze, wood etc.
Modern sculpture as well as art in general is impacted by successive art styles like Geometric Abstraction, Cubism, De Stijl, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism Suprematism, Constructivism, Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop-Art. The advent of Surrealism, for example, was significant in terms of sculpture because it led to things occasionally being described as “sculpture” that would not have been so previously, such as “involuntary sculpture” in several senses, including coulage.
Also important was the vocabulary of reduction and abstraction, which was seen throughout the 1930s and 1940s and was exemplified by artists such as Gaston Lachaise, Sir Jacob Epstein, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Julio Gonzlez, Pablo Serrano, Jacques Lipchitz at that time, and later in the century by Carl Andre and John Safer who added motion and monumentality to the themes of purity of line.
By the 1960s Abstract expressionism, Geometric abstraction and Minimalism predominated. Some works of the period are: the ‘Cubi’ works of David Smith, the large scale work of John Chamberlain, and environmental installation scale works by Mark di Suvero.
In 1967 Picasso presented his acclaimed work, “Chicago Picasso” in Chicago. It is a 50 feet high, massive, abstract bronze structure. The viewers wondered whether the subject was a bird, horse, woman, or a non-figurative abstraction. This landmark creation was an indicator of the new connection that modern sculptors felt with bronze. Another significant example was “Knife Edge – Two Piece” in 1962, erected near the House of Lords in London, by Henry Moore. The author described the phenomenon of modern sculpture: “the sensitive observer of sculpture must learn to feel the shape simply as shape, not as description or reminiscence. He must, for example, perceive an egg as a simple solid shape, quite apart from its significance as food, or from the literary idea that it will become a bird.”
Bronze sculpture has been around for a long time. Bronze enjoys considerable longevity, and it slightly expands before it sets. This allows the artist to apply the finest details to the piece. Bronze is very strong and ductile. This ductility contributes greatly to works that depict motion, especially in human and animal figure.
Modern artists use different methods to keep this art form alive and well. There are a number of discrete casting processes that have to be mastered, such as sand casting and centrifugal casting. When artists plan to create a large bronze sculpture, they usually create a miniature example of what they plan to create first. They also use a large number of measuring devices to scale the dimensions of a piece accurately.
One method to create a bronze sculpture is the lost-wax method. It is an older method, but still commonly used today. To use it, an artist sculpts the original piece in wax, wood or clay, and then spends hours or even days perfecting the desired shape of the artwork. The waxed piece is then dipped in ceramic, and then dipped in fine sand, giving the detail. It is then dipped in coarser sand which will give strength to the piece. This process is repeated until the coating reaches one quarter of an inch in thickness. The artwork is heated to one thousand five hundred degrees Fahrenheit to melt the wax and set the ceramic mold.
As we can see, bronze sculpture is very popular for excellent reasons, and may express different aspects of time and Weltanschauung.
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