Art Term

Sculpture

Three-dimensional art made by one of four basic processes: carving, modelling, casting, constructing

Henry Moore OM, CH, ‘Recumbent Figure’ 1938
Henry Moore OM, CH
Recumbent Figure 1938
Tate
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Louise Bourgeois, ‘Spider’ 1994
Louise Bourgeois
Spider 1994
ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Lent by the Easton Foundation 2013
Photo: Christopher Burke, © The Easton Foundation
Rachel Whiteread, ‘Untitled (Twenty-Four Switches)’ 1998
Rachel Whiteread
Untitled (Twenty-Four Switches) 1998
Tate
© Rachel Whiteread
Grayson Perry, ‘My Gods’ 1994
Grayson Perry
My Gods 1994
Tate
© Grayson Perry

Carving

Carving is a sculptural technique that involves using tools to shape a form by cutting or scraping away from a solid material such as stone, wood, ivory or bone.

Casting

Casting involves making a mould and then pouring a liquid material, such as molten metal, plastic, rubber or fibreglass into the mould. A cast is a form made by this process. Many sculptures are produced by the artist modelling a form (normally in clay, wax or plaster). This is then used to to create a mould to cast from. A mould can be cast more than once, allowing artists to create editions of an artwork.

Modelling

Modelling is an additive process. This means a soft material is worked by the artist to build up a shape or form (rather than scraping or material away as in carving). Also unlike carving, soft materials such as clay and wax can be changed and reworked. Modelling a maquette can also often be the first step in the creation of a finished sculpture.

Constructing and Assembling

In the twentieth century a new way of making sculpture emerged with the cubist constructions of Picasso. These were still life subjects made from scrap (found) materials glued together. Constructed sculpture in various forms became a major stream in modern art, including in movements such as constructivism or techniques like assemblage. Artists have used techniques including bending, folding, stitching, welding, bolting, tying, weaving, and balancing to construct sculptures from a wide variety of materials and found objects.

SELECTED ARTISTS WORKING WITH sculpture

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Sculpture at Tate