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History of Sculpture

Sculpture as an art form was known in ancient times. The oldest sculptures found by archaeologists are female statuettes and reliefs, which date back to 10-8 thousand BC. The common term for prehistoric sculpture of a woman is "Venus of the Paleolithic." With the beginning of the Mesolithic age figurative sculpture began to be used as an addition to the artistic design of architectural objects. The era of great ancient civilizations was marked by the creation of magnificent specimens of stone sculpture. Egyptians skillfully created images of gods, kings, animals and mythical creatures, but they adhered to strict canons. The most famous sculptures of the Ancient Egyptian period are the Great Sphinx and the bust of Nefertiti.

The most important stage in the development of sculpture was antiquity. Sculpting became the most important type of creative work in ancient Greece. Ancient sculptors sought to idealize the human body creating works in accordance with human scale and proportions. Almost all of them were a sculpture of a man half-naked with his hands down. Over time Greek sculptors began to experiment with postures, and faces received individual traits. An important landmark was the separation of religious sculpture from the secular in the late 6th century.

Medieval sculpture was perceived as a kind of biblical text. Separately, the sculpture was not seen often, since it reminded of idolatry, but it had almost complete freedom in architecture. The main kind of fine art in the Gothic era was a monumental sculpture. Gothic sculpture acted as an organic part of the cathedral architecture. The sculptors and artists of this era became interested in the inner world of their heroes. The main feature of the Renaissance sculpture was compactness of the composition. The statues of the Renaissance are distinguished by the realism of image and artistic perfection. Sculpture ceases to be an adornment of city squares, churches and palaces, but it becomes more and more chamber.

In the period from 15 to 19 centuries sculpture receives even more freedom in building the composition. The 20th century introduces new methods and materials; modern sculptors expand the range of topics and genres. The general trend of this period is active interaction of sculptural works with the space around. Artists of the Art Nouveau epoch proclaim everyday objects as sculptural works. Modern sculpture penetrated into all areas of art.

There are two main types of sculptures: round (three-dimensional works - statues, figurines, busts) and relief (the sculpture is located on the background level). Depending on the purpose there are the following kinds of sculpture: monumental (obelisks, monuments, monuments), monumental and decorative (serves for decoration of facades, parks) and easel sculpture (independent work, not dependent on the environment).

Among the most famous sculptures of the world: "Venus de Milo", "David" and "Pieta", bronze sculpture "The Capitoline Wolf", stone sculptures on Easter Island, "The Terracotta Army", "Golden Buddha" in Bangkok and many others.

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Famous Sculptors

Sculptors are artists who create voluminous works of art. The job of a sculptor is one of the most ancient. The most ancient sculpture we have now is the Great Sphinx carved by Egyptian sculptors of a limestone cliff.

Schools of sculpture appear in ancient Greece. Among the most famous Greek sculptors are: Miron (introduced animated movement in sculpture, the author of one of the most famous antique sculptures "The Discobollos"), Phidias (created statues of gods, author of "Pallas Athena "), Polyclet, Lysippus, etc. The most recognizable sculpture of ancient Greece is the "Venus of Milo". The art of Greek sculpture was adopted in ancient Rome. Roman sculptors took little care of idealization and tried to convey personality with precision and strength.

In the early Middle Ages the art of sculpture was on complete decline and fully revived only during the Renaissance. The most famous masters of this period were Italian sculptors. Donatello is considered the founder of the individualized sculptural portrait. His most famous works were created within the classical style (statues of the Apostle Mark, David and St. George). Among the most ingenious Renaissance sculptors is Michelangelo Buonarroti, who created a unique individual style and had a fatal influence on the further progress of the sculpture. His most famous works are "Pieta" (1499) and "David" (1501-1504).

One of the most recognized baroque sculptors is the Italian artist Lorenzo Bernini. About a hundred of his sculptures have been recognized as objects of art. Among his most famous sculptural masterpieces are "Apollo and Daphne" (1622-1625), "Ecstasy of Saint Theresa" (1647-1652), the Triton Fountain in Rome.

One of the creators of contemporary sculpture is the French sculptor Auguste Rodin - the virtuosic master of the image of the human body and transfer of the emotional state of his heroes. His work, "The Thinker" (1880-1882), is the most recognizable in the world. His sculptures "Citizens of Calais" and "The Kiss" (1882) are also known.

The 20th century gave a new impetus to the development of the art of sculpture, which is characterized by various modernist trends: cubism (Alexander Archipenko), constructivism (Naum Gabo), abstractionism (Alexander Calder), surrealism (Alberto Giacometti). The bronze statue of the latter entitled "Walking Man I" (1961), became the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction (for $ 104 327 million).

Modern sculptors have a variety of materials and freedom to work in various techniques. The British sculptor Ron Mueck is working in the genre of hyperrealism creating terribly realistic human sculptures using silicone, synthetic hair, polyester, polyurethane. The author of the most commercially successful sculptures of modernity is the American sculptor Jeff Koons (a series of huge sculptures imitating toys made from oblong balloons). Despite the originality of artistic solutions contemporary sculptors are focused not on their mastery but on the necessity to surprise the audience.

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Techniques and Types of Sculpture

A sculpture as a voluminous object has three dimensions: height, width and depth. The sculptor creates his works with various materials and basic techniques: modeling (using soft materials - clay, wax, plaster), sculpturing (from solid materials - marble, stone, wood), casting (casting and metalsmithing).

The earliest were stone sculptures created by the ancient man in an attempt to embody their vision of the surrounding world. The era of great ancient civilizations was also marked by creation of magnificent stone sculptures. Until ancient times, sculptures were made of clay, limestone, gypsum, and jade.

The most popular material used by sculptors of the Renaissance and the Baroque period was marble. Although marble sculpture existed in Ancient Greece and Rome, it is with these two periods that this more expensive material is associated. The most famous sculptures of the Renaissance were created in Italy.

The main materials for making metal sculptures are gold, silver, bronze, copper, brass, iron and tin alloy.

Porcelain figurines have been considered as a special sign of luxury since ancient times. Figures from porcelain were first created in the homeland of this material - in China. In medieval Europe porcelain was valued equally with precious metal.

There are the following types of sculpture: round and relief, and -depending on the purpose - monumental, monumental-decorative and indoor sculpture. Round sculpture is a three-dimensional work intended for circular viewing (bust, statue, figurine, sculptural group, small statuary). The relief sculpture is created with the help of volumes protruding from the background and is divided into several types: low relief, high relief, hollow relief and cavo-relievo. The monumental sculpture is big in size and is created for a specific architectural and spatial environment (obelisks, monuments). The choice of material for the production of sculptures of this type depends on the environment. We know that wood sculpture of ancient Slavs was carving huge idols. European masters preferred bronze sculpture. The monumental-decorative type is used in designs of facades and interiors of buildings, bridges, fountains, parks (garden-park sculpture). Nowadays garden sculpture is used in landscape design. Indoor sculpture is independent and intended to be viewed from a close distance.

The art of sculpture is inextricably linked with historical context. If the sculpture of the classical era blended with the interior, the realistic sculpture of the 19th century becomes independent. Realism was a form of response to romantic and classical idealization, as well as to the rejection of generally accepted academic norms. By the end of the 19th century academism succumbed to other styles altogether, mostly modern. Sculptors go into endless search combining all sorts of styles and trying to find their own. In the first half of the 20th century such a trend was formed as abstractionism or non-subject art. There are two main directions: geometric abstraction and lyrical. Minimalism became the extreme expression of geometric abstraction in the sculpture. The avant-garde sculpture is characterized by interweaving of various trends, experiments and innovative principles. The space becomes a composite element that reflects the ideological component of the sculpture.

Sculptors of the 21st century are looking for new forms and using non-standard techniques. Modern sculptures impress with variety and originality of the materials: you can find works made of paper, wire, glass, butter, acrylic paint. There are sculptures moving under the influence of wind or motor, as well as glowing ones. There are unique works with light, which are created by putting one acrylic sculpture into another. Despite the originality of contemporary sculptures sculptors of today are striving more to shock the audience than to surprise them with his mastery.

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