Carved Sculpture

November 28, 2008 at 2:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Carved or reductive sculpture is the earliest form of surviving sculpture. Different types of materials usedconsist of wood (soft and hard), stone (igneous and sedimentary), organic shells, bones and pods, and more recently, plastics.


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By far the earliest piece of carved sculpture that exists today is the ‘Venus of Willendorf’ which is believed to be made between 22,000 and 24,000 years BC, so long ago that it is quite unimaginable that early people bashed rocks together to create this beautiful and exquisitely detailed symbolic figure. So much so that I feel it proves that early people possessed an equal intelligence to us and the human race is evolving physically rather than mentally, into two separate races; the rich and the poor. As for survival, the poor are still dying in large numbers, ensuring survival of the fittest or those immune to illness, which they will be strong, sturdy and cunning. Contrary to the rich who have governments that ensure the survival of everyone, including the old. This, combined with the abundance of money means that technological advances will not only keep everyone alive, but also allow prospective parents to be more selective about their babies traits, and looks, meaning that this race will be taller with less or more abnormalities (depending on how many experiments go on!) but generally either a little simple or super intelligent, going by if they were made for looks or brains.

…But anyway this is just a theory, it would take millions of years… and we’ll probably have blown ourselves up, or the planet by then anyway! HA!

(sorry.. ramble ramble ramble)

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Michelangelo was born on March the 6th 1475 in Tuscany, Italy. A man of many artistic disciplines, he was a famed sculptor, painter, architect, poet and engineer. Being one of the worlds most loved and respected historical artists, Michelangelo created such masterpieces as, David (1504), Sistine Chapel ceiling (1505), and Pietà, a depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary, carved in 1499, when the sculptor was only 24 years old.

This piece is carved to absolute perfection, the detail in the fabrics, and the look of sorrow on Mary’s face is absolutely spectacular, something most people could only dream of creating, (myself defiantly included in that!) As we have just started carving from big blocks of solid plaster, it becomes immensely obvious the sheer volume of skill and strength needed to execute carved sculpture, as it is extremely physically draining. Adding onto that the fact that Michelangelo worked in stone and marble, I can only imagine how hard and unforgiving that material would be. Look at the dates between projects, just how quickly Michelangelo completed these hugely detailed and large sculptures without compromising on quality. This really sheds light on what a true genius and master craftsman Michelangelo was.

Henry Moore (1898-1986) Henry Moore is most famous for his large abstract bronze figures based on the reclining female figure. Although much of his work including ‘Double Oval’ (1966) or ‘Oval with Points’ (1970) is purely abstract.

There is something about the smoothness and distortion from the subject matter that I find really appealing about Moore’s work. The beautiful flowing lines and lack of any intricate detail make it world’s apart from the work of Michelangelo, yet it’s this difference and abstract beauty that make him meritable.

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This signature piece ‘Reclining Figure’ (1951) is made from painted plaster, and sits outside the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge. I thought this was a relevant piece to look at as Moore has used the same media as we have, and has turned a chunky and ugly big rectangular block of plaster into this incredibly elegant and smooth figure. Much the same as my head, the holes and negative space suggest the form and there are slits and shadows creating tone and depth.

Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) Barbara Hepworth was an English sculptor and friend of Moore, Hepworth is best known for her purely abstract sculptures taking resendance in her gardens at St. Ives, which now also contains a museum dedicated to her work. Unlike Henry Moore, who started with natural forms, Hepworth’s sculpture was essentially abstract, as you can see here in this piece, ‘Sphere with inner form’

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This beautiful spherical object, with slices removed and this vivid, central turquoise shape, also containing a circular hole in the centre. This allows for the viewer to see through and beyond these forms. As in my own work I have attempted to portray form and depth through negative space, I feel this is something Hepworth has displayed greatly in this sculpture as indeed she has with the majority of them. I adore the simplicity of this piece, the smooth edge and the lack of a need to convey an important message or complicate this beautiful and simple form with a conception. (Although you as the viewer are always free to do so, so in that way it’s very versatile!)

Here are some photographs of my carved head, as well as examples of the work I have just been talking aboot..

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