Introduction to Humanities
The Humanities through the Arts
F. David Martin and Lee A. Jacobus
Sculpture along with painting and
architecture is classified as one of the visual
This classification suggest that the eye is
the chief sense organ involved in our
participation with sculpture.
Yet...some kinds of sculpture invite us to
explore and caress them with our hands,
even to pick them up if not too large or
Tactile sense pulls us to touch a sculpture.
Sculpture engages our senses differently
than painting does.
This is because sculpture occupies space as
a three-dimensional mass, whereas
painting is essentially a two-dimensional
surface that can only “represent” three dimensionality.
Painting can suggest density but sculpture
is dense.
Generally no clear separation is made in
experience between the faculties of sight
and touch.
The sensa of touch, are normally joined
with other sensa – visual, aural, oral, and
Even if only one kind of sensum initiates a
perception, a chain reaction triggers off
other sensations, either by sensory and
motor connections or by memory
Rothko’s Earth Green (figure 4-1) and Arp’s
Growth (figure 5-1) both works are
abstract, for neither has as its primary
subject matter specific objects or events.
Arp’s sculpture has something to do with
growth as confirmed by the title. But is it
human, animal or vegetable growth?
Rothko has abstracted sensa, especially
colors, from objects or things..
Abstract painters generally emphasize the
surfaces of sensa, as in Earth Greens.
The interest is in the vast ranges of color
qualities and the play of light to bring ut the
textural nuances.
Where as abstract painters are shepherds of
surface sensa, abstract sculptors are
shepherds of depth sensa.
We usually think of sculpture as dense and
projecting out into space.
Yet in the Egyptian work there is no
projection whatsoever.
Carving grooves of various depths into the
surface plane of the stone to outline each
object, is called sunken relief.
There are clearly noticeable projections out
into space
There are no background starting points that
function as the bases for the planar
The surface planes of the panels function as
the basic organizing planes: hence the
expression “surface relief.”
Relief sculpture projects from a background
plane such as a wall or column.
Low-relief sculpture projects relatively
slightly from its background plane,
and so its depth dimension is very limited.
Medium and high –relief sculpture project
further from their backgrounds,
And so their depth dimensions are expanded.
Relief sculpture allows its materials to stand
out from a background plane.
Thus relief sculpture in at least one way
reveals its materials simply by showing us
directly-their surface and something of their
High relief stands out from the wall.
Michelangelo’s Pieta
Intended it to be placed in a niche so it would
be seen from the front.
It is a transition piece between high-relief
sculpture, such as the Dancing Asparas
and unqualified sculpture in the round, such
as growth.
Architecture is the art of separating inner
from outer space in such a way that the inner
space can be used for practical purposes.
With Sculpture there is no inner space.
Fig 5-9 is clearly sculpture because there is
no inner space.
The space around a sculpture is sensory
rather than empty.
Despite its invisibility, sensory space - like
the wind - is felt.
Sculptures such as Growth are like magnets
from which radiating vectors flow.
As we focus on such sculptures we find
ourselves being drawn in and around by
these invisible but perceptible radiating
Sculptures generally are more or less a center
– the place of most importance which
organizes the places around it – of actual
three-dimensional space: “more in the case
of sculpture in the round, “less” in the case of
low relief.
No object is more important to us than our
body, and it is always “with” us.
Sculpture in the round often evokes our
inward sensations…
When we participate with sculpture such as
Aphrodite, we find some thing of our bodily
selves confronting us.
Art is always a transformation of reality,
never a duplication.
Thus the absence of head and arms in the
Aphrodite does not shock us as it would if
we were confronting a real woman.
Nor does their absence ruin our perception
of the beauty of this statue.
Even before the damage, the work was only
a partial image of a female.
The Aphrodite is substantial because the
female shape, texture, grace, sensuality,
sexuality, and beauty are interpreted by
Sculpture in relief and in the round
generally is made either by modeling or
Space sculpture, such as Calder’s Gates of
Spoleto fig 5-16 generally is made by
assembling preformed pieces of material.
The modeler starts with some plastic or
malleable material such as clay, wax, or
plaster and “builds” the sculpture.
If the design is complex or involves long or
thin extensions, the modeler probably will
have to use and internal wooden or metal
support (armature) that functions
something like a skeleton.
The sculptor in bronze begins with clay or
some similar material and builds up a
model to a more or less high degree of
Space sculpture never completely loses its
ties to the materiality of its materials.
The materials of Antennae with Red and
Blue Dots and The Gates of Spoleto (fig 515 & 5-16) despite their thinness, appear
The Spiral Theme fig 5-17 planes of plastic
divide space with multidirectional
movement, no visual barriers develop.
Developments in sculpture are emerging and
changing so quickly that no attempt can be
made here even to begin to classify them.
These developments fall into the species of
low, medium, and high relief, sculpture in the
round, space sculpture, earth sculpture, and
some hybrids of these.
There is fairly pervasive respect for the
material used in sculpture.
In contemporary sculpture respect for
materials has come back and is called “truth
to materials.”
The Maternity Group fig 5-21 is notable in its
respect for materials.
Explicit social protest is part of the subject
matter of all these works by Trova, Segal,
and Giacometti, Wheel Man fig 5-22 protest
directed at technology.
The Bus Driver fig 5-23 is “environmental
There is no center in this city square fig 524 or any exit, nor can we imagine any
communication among these citizens.
Sculpture today far more than painting can
take advantage of some of the most
sophisticated advances of technology.
Many sculptors today interpret the positive
rather than the negative aspects of
This respect for technology is expressed by;
1) truth to its materials or 2) care for its
products or 3) showing forth it
Some avant-garde sculptors are interested
not so much in the materials and products of
technology but rather in the machine and its
powers: their works are known as “machine
Tinguely is dedicated to humanizing the
machine (Homage to New York) fig 5-30.
Another avant-garde sculpture “earth
sculpture” – goes so far as to make the
earth itself the medium, site, and the
subject matter. Fig 5-33
The proper spatial selection becomes
absolutely essential, for the earth usually
must be taken where it is found.
Traced in plains, meadows, sand, snow,
ect., called “form site”
Sculpture in open spaces is by no means a
new idea, but the modern practice of
placing monumental steel constructions in
open natural settings is owning to David
Smith’s (Cubi X) fig 5-25
City on the High Mountain fig 5-34 permits
the viewer to walk completely around the
work, observing the play of light and
Sculpture has traditionally shared its
location with major buildings, sometimes
acting as decoration on the building, as in
many churches, or acting as a center point
of interest.
Many public sculptures commemorate war
or other important events.
One of the most successful (fig. 5-38)
public sculptures by Maya Ying Lin (Vietnam
Veteran Memorial) in Washington, D.C..

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