What do you think of when you think of sculptures? A lot of us immediately envision famous statues like the Greek Venus de Milo housed in the Louvre, or Michelangelo’s Statue of David housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia inFlorence. One of the reasons we think of old statues when we think of sculptures is that much of the best preserved art from various epochs of history is sculptural. Stone sculptures preserve quite well compared to two-dimensional artworks on paper or canvas. But how much do you know about modern sculptures? Here are 5 facts which may surprise you.
- Some sculptural motifs are so deeply rooted in the human psyche that they have spanned thousands of years. The oldest depictions of the scales of justice and Lady Justice herself date clear back to ancientEgypt, where statues of the goddess Maat depicted the divine lady weighing the value of human souls on their way to the afterlife. Modern depictions of Lady Justice vary a great deal, some quite abstract and contemporary, but depictions of the scales themselves are usually quite uniform.
- The biggest sculpture in the world used to be Mount Rushmore, with the busts of the four presidents standing 60 feet high. However, there are literally dozens of sculptures that stand taller thanMount Rushmore. The tallest is the Spring Temple Buddha inLushan,Henan. This statue stands 420 feet tall. This statue had to be built from the ground up, not simply carved out of an existing mountain.If the statue of Crazy Horse nearby is ever finished, it will stand at a whopping 563 feet. The Crazy Horse sculpture has been surrounded by controversy for years now.
- In 1993, English artist Rachel Whiteread was forced to accept the cash award from the K Foundation for being the worst British artist for her sculpture, “House.” If she had not appeared to collect the money, it would have been burned (they had the petrol ready). Whiteread accepted the award and gave the money to charity. Her sculpture was later demolished to the anger of many; the same year she was declared the worst British artist by the K Foundation, she was awarded the Turner Price for best young British artist.
Every March in Valencia Spain, massive sculptures made out of paper mache and other flammable materials are created parodying events from the previous year and then lit on fire as part of the Falles celebration. This isValencia’s way of sending out the old year and bringing in the new one, by wiping the slate clean.
- Some modern sculptures transform the entire idea of the sculpture to include soft materials such as textiles. Huge sculptures made of netted fabric were included in the 2010 Winter Olympics exhibits. The “Sky Lanterns” featured two large fabric pieces arranged artistically over a water garden. A sculpture that is touring the world right now by Argentinian artist Tomàs Saraceno titled On Space Time Foam is constructed out of PBV sheets at various heights and angles. The sculpture is interactive and based on string theory; every time someone climbs on it, every movement impacts the entire sculpture, turning it into a collaborative playground of structural fun.
While sculpture has roots deep in human history, it has evolved a great deal and now represents a very broad world of three-dimensional artwork. Art is no longer something to simply look at, but also something to interact with and to play with and learn from. Modern sculpture unites new with old, and there’s something for everyone.
This is a guest post by Victoria, an occasional guest-blogger and a full-time online marketing consultant. He currently works for PhotoFramesPlus, a great website selling Lady Justice Sculptures and other great lawyer gifts.