Modern sculptures, as an art form, are witnessing significant divergence from the ancient theory of sculptures. During the primordial times, sculptures were either made of ivory or clay. A few centuries later, basalt, diorite, sandstone and alabaster were employed. Superior quality sculptures and inlays were created with precious stones, such as copper, gold and silver. Today, however, a variety of media is used for making the most innovative modern art sculptures.
Types of Material Used in Modern Sculpture
Had Michelangelo learned the art of modern sculpture, he would not have had to struggle for years in the Sistine Chapel. This is because modern sculptures are technology-friendly and therefore, less time-consuming. These days, sculptures are mainly created by carving, welding, casting or molding a variety of materials. The most common materials used in modern art sculpture are:
Scrap Metal – ‘Scrap’ of course being recyclable materials which are left-over from vehicles and buildings. The modern term for this art form is ‘scraptures’. It is a difficult form of art which requires an in-depth knowledge of mechanics. A small number of artists pursue it as a career and although still wanting in popularity, this art form is definitely very innovative.
Living Sculpture – This type of sculpture involves creating artwork with living or recently harvested plants. Generally, three techniques of living sculpture are created: topiary, tree shaping and tree sculpture. Topiary involves pruning plants and training them over frames. Tree shaping requires designing trees, and tree sculpture involves creating art with newly cut branches. With horticultural dexterity, one can create breathtakingly sculptured gardens and parks.
Glass Sculptures – Glass sculptures are an extremely popular form of artwork created by a number of methods such as glassblowing, glass fusing and glass casting. Glass sculptures do not aim at highlighting the delicate quality of glass, rather to aspire to creating innovative designs using them. Certain renowned glass sculptors are William Morris, Steven Weinberg, Christopher Ries and Marvin Lipofsky.
Another unique sculptural form is renewable energy sculpture. The term suggests its function – it generates power from renewable sources like, solar, geothermal, tidal and wind energy. Such sculptures fulfill utilitarian, aesthetic as well as cultural purposes. Artists such as Sarah Hall, Patrick Marold and Julian H. Scaff are regarded as the pioneers of renewable energy sculptures. They believe that the aesthetics of art forms must be inextricably connected with their ecological functions.
Challenging Concepts of Modern Sculptures
Modern sculpture has introduced a variety of new concepts and terms to the conventional theory of sculpture. One of these is the concept of readymade sculpture. This term, coined by Marcel Duchamp, refers to the art created from common objects with some modifications to them, making it an art form. An example of this is Duchamp’s urinal, which he named “Fountain”, or a bottle drying rack named “Bottle Rack”. Another concept in modern art sculpture is the installation art, an artistic genre of site-specific, three-dimensional form designed to alter the perception of a particular space. Such works of art find their place in museums and galleries.
Aestheticism may not be inherent in modern sculptural concepts, yet these qualify as art because they are creative constructions.