Sculpture in Contemporary Art

Sculpture in Contemporary Art

Sculpture is an art form in which hard or plastic materials are formed into three-dimensional art objects through carving, molding, welding, casting or fabrication processes. It may involve carving out intricate details from solid surfaces; shaping soft materials into three-dimensional art pieces using tools or molding processes; carving shapes onto surfaces using carving tools; modeling clay using modeling clay tools or welding wire tools or fabricating objects by other means such as forging them together using different processes such as casting.

Veronica Ryan creates abstract organic shapes derived from seeds, pods and husks using materials such as stackable take-away food containers and plastic fishing wire.

Sense of Form

At its core, sculpture requires intuitive reactions to three-dimensional form. While sculpture may be thought of as an artistic form wherein materials are shaped or formed into forms already existing in nature (representative sculpture), most people can develop an intuitive sense of form and respond emotionally when confronted with it.

Sculpture has long been seen as a form of artistic expression. Artists use sculpture to convey their ideas about certain themes or concepts, with objects made out of clay, wood, bronze or marble that may stand alone or serve as relief on another work of art such as paintings or prints.

Modern sculpture has taken a significant step away from tradition since Auguste Rodin’s works first introduced it, using diverse materials like iron, resins, plastics, metals and concrete as well as “found objects” such as earth, leaves and branches – not forgetting industrial techniques and engineering into their work – also using nontraditional approaches such as industrial welding techniques to achieve this end. Furthermore, installation art and sculpture are increasingly merging.

At one time, sculpture was thought of as consisting of hard or plastic materials that remained static over time. With kinetic sculpture’s rise however, these ideas are no longer valid; Jan van der Laan’s pieces feature cubes, spheres and other forms that move when light hits them in certain spots.

This book gathers 42 essays originally published in Sculpture magazine during its first 25 years of publication, providing a broad view of modern sculpture in the 20th century. Unlike many other books on the topic, this one focuses more on specific artists and their works rather than broad trends or movements – providing an indispensable resource for those interested in modern art sculpture.

Expressiveness of Form

Since prehistorical times, sculpture has been an artistic form unto itself. A three-dimensional art form that takes up space in height, width and depth, sculpture has long been used for purposes such as utilitarian and symbolic use; expression of religion or culture; personal aesthetic pleasure – among many others.

Sculpture has evolved drastically over time. While traditionally it was considered an art that imitated forms from nature such as human and animal figures, more recently sculpture has also included nonrepresentational forms like spirals and zigzags found in Islamic calligraphy or simple shapes found in Japanese Zen gardens.

From the High Renaissance on, sculpture became one of the principal forms of visual art, attracting middle-class students despite initially lacking female artists sculptors were slowly emerging; women sculptors appeared later than female painters did, though. In the 18th and 19th centuries sculpture was at its most prevalent as decorative features for buildings (especially churches) while also remaining one of the most respected artistic disciplines – often being considered on par with painting in terms of respectability.

Modernism’s arrival in the 20th century caused sculpture to shed traditional materials and techniques. Marcel Duchamp’s concept of readymades allowed artists to incorporate industrial waste, food products, newspapers and other everyday objects not usually associated with sculpture into their pieces. Furthermore, they experimented with new forming processes such as casting, welding and forging as well as using more materials that could be worked by carving or modelling into their sculptures – metal, stone clay glass wood were just a few such materials available at that time.

Contemporary sculpture has not strayed far from this trend; artists often employ innovative materials and processes such as 3D printing to plexiglass when creating works influenced by themes such as nature, organic forms or human condition. 10 contemporary sculptors featured on The Artling have created works inspired by these themes as they craft their artworks.


Sculpture is one of the oldest forms of visual art and has long been used to depict stories, record events, express religious or philosophical beliefs and memorialize individuals. While historically sculpture was created using traditional materials like stone and wood, modern technology now allows artists to work with an ever-expanding array of materials and processes – reflecting an eagerness to break with traditions while discovering new expressive possibilities.

Three-dimensional art includes several essential components that define it, including line, space, mass/volume and shape. Line identifies a sculpture’s outer limits and changes as you move around or look from different perspectives; space refers to physical distance between major contours; mass or volume refers to solid objects with impenetrable forms that have impermeable surfaces, with negative space around each mass object as defined by negative space surrounded by mass; shape refers to how something is made out of different parts.

Traditional sculpture practices were founded upon ideals of beauty, balance and symmetry; with naturalistic representation a key goal. Modern sculpture’s arrival in the 1920s led to an alteration in values and aesthetic conventions; artists began exploring geometric figures, movement and communicating their subjectivity through art forms such as Louise Bourgeois and Joan Jonas’ experimental practices in regards to feminist and social protest. With conceptual art’s introduction in the 1960s, new possibilities opened up even further for sculpture as new avenues opened up through its explorations into its communicative functions as artists explored geometric figures, movement subjectivity as part of art’s communicative functions. With conceptual art’s rise came new avenues of exploration for artists like Louise Bourgeois and Joan Jonas exploring feminist and protest politics through sculpture works such as Louise Bourgeois’ explorations into artistic practice that explored these new areas in relation to art’s communicative functions before conceptual arts’ rise in 1960s further expanded sculpting practices through artists like Louise Bourgeois’ and Joan Jonas’ explorations explored further these aspects through conceptual art practices which challenged established normative conventions while conceptual arts made an impactful debut its debut through its subjectivity within art forms such as Louise Bourgeois’ and Joan Jonas exploring feminist politics within art’s communicative functions which made its presence known among others through exploring feminist ideology while communicative functions via subjectivity through communication functions as well. Finally conceptual art’s exploration feminism made its presence opening new frontiers through Louise Bourgeois’ exploration exploring feminist critique before social protest feminism through conceptual art works like Louise Bourgeois’ and Joan Jonas exploring feminist art’s communicatory functions further opened further opened up another frontier through its communic functions communic functions, with Louise Bourgeois’ explored further opened up its communic functions through communication of communication functions through communic function within social protest.

Modern materials and processes have enabled sculptors to explore various shapes, scales, sizes and textures while creating works with vast variations in size, form and texture. A sculptor now can carve stone at previously impossible sizes while others use glass, ceramics bronze plaster casting materials or other casting methods for their statues.

Some sculptors employ materials not typically associated with art, like bicycle parts, iron, paper or recycled objects – materials not usually associated with sculpture but nonetheless working as artistic mediums. Marcel Duchamp introduced the concept of readymades in 1917 – any object can be considered art if given meaning through artistic interpretation. Modern day sculptors seek ways to use non-traditional materials alongside more conventional ones like marble or clay in their works; additionally they may employ industrial waste, recycled organic material such as leaves sand branches as artistic mediums.


Art can have a transformative and profound effect on people’s mindsets, particularly contemporary sculpture. This form allows artists to address social issues by using figurative or abstract representation. Furthermore, contemporary sculpture challenges traditional conceptions of fine art as it doesn’t fall under painting’s confines and can instead produce works in various media.

Sculpture has long been an integral part of society, dating back as far as antiquity. While sculpture cannot create the same illusion of space as painting does or provide its forms with atmospheric lighting effects, its tactile and visual presence are immediately recognisable. Furthermore, its versatility means it can stand free or attached to flat surfaces such as tables; taking on shapes such as coins and medals or hardstone carvings or even be formed into pots!

Modern sculpture has experienced unprecedented popularity both for public display and private spaces, and artists exploring new sculptural concepts and techniques. This popularity has allowed sculpture to regain its former prestige and value.

However, it is essential to remember that the definition of sculpture has changed over time and will continue to shift with each passing decade. Take for instance the work of American artist Jeff Koons – an ex-Wall Street trader turned artist – as an example; his pieces use household appliances, toys and party favors as subjects as well as popular culture figures like Popey or Michael Jackson or even Hulk as subjects; creating luxury kitsch that many either appreciate or despise simultaneously.

Contemporary sculpture can be constructed out of various materials such as bronze, marble, clay, paper, plaster and steel and can take both figurative and abstract forms. Contemporary sculpture can also be used to communicate political, social and cultural issues as well as commemorate events or express personal vision – this makes it a highly valued form of art that often provokes emotional responses in viewers.