Common terminology for sculpture
- Free-standing – Sculpture not attached or supported by any other structure.
- Relief sculpture – A technique where the sculpture is raised from but still attached to a surface. Bas-relief is if it is only slightly raised from the surface and high relief if it’s further away and more defined from its background.
- Bust – Sculpture which depicts the head (and sometimes shoulders and chest) of a person.
- Monument or memorial – A single sculpture or group of sculptures designed to commemorate a significant person or historical event.
- Effigy – A representation of a person, typically found in a recumbent position on tombs. Effigies can also be representations of hated people that are made to be destroyed such as Guy Fawkes effigies for Bonfire Night in the UK.
- Equestrian statue – A statue of a figure riding on a horse.
- Mobile – A type of kinetic sculpture, based on movement. The elements of the sculpture are affixed and hung in such a way that a gentle breeze will move the parts.
- Sound sculpture – Sculpture that is created to make a sound. The sound then becomes an important part of the work.
- Marble (Often, you’ll be able to trace the source of the marble and where it was quarried such as Carrara or Makrana)
- Wood (Oak, pine, cherry, lime, birch, etc)
- Stone and semi-precious stones
- Gold and silver
- Man-made materials: Aluminium, concrete, steel, cardboard, plastic and plaster
- 3-D printing
- Geometric abstraction
- De Stijl
- Abstract Expressionism
- Land art
- Installation art
- Identifiable shapes
- Patterns, textures and markings
- Appearance and clothing (if it’s figurative sculpture)
- Site (where it is located)
Further linksThe V&A Sculpture Hub Chilvers, Ian. The Oxford Dictionary of Art, 3rd. edition (Oxford: University of Oxford Press, 2004. Ward, Gerald WR. The Grove Encyclopaedia of Materials and Techniques in Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
Modern Sculpture: An Introduction to Art History
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