Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

11.2: Sculpture

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)


    By the 1960s, the concept of sculptures was changed, the trend towards abstract and figurative firmly in place as traditional ideas were rejected. New materials were available, and sculptors began to experiment with them. The period also brought more sophistication to create and manufacture sculptures, especially oversized images. Sculptors no longer created a single figure out of marble or bronze, and the use of multiple materials involved additional people beyond the artist. Projects, particularly those outdoors, became collaborative efforts with landscape designers and site architects. Site-specific and environmental works on a grand scale were pioneered during this period. The landscape was the basis for the sculpture for some artists, and works were integrated into existing environments.

    Materials were important choices for each artist based on technology and the placement in an environment. Those sculptors using metal needed a broad expanse of space and technology to cast or weld the metal. Other sculptors who made large works in factories required trucks and oversized cranes to transport and install their work. Some artists found materials in the environment and used them to create a natural work, while others transformed natural elements with unnatural materials. Some art was permanently installed in this period, while other artwork was temporary and responsive to natural forces.

    Katsura Funakoshi

    Katsura Funakoshi (1951-) is considered one of Japan's leading visual artists, currently living in Tokyo. His father was a sculptor, and Funakoshi learned at first from his father. He attended the Tokyo University of Art and Design for his Bachelor of Arts and the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music for a Master of Arts degree. Funakoshi became a serious carver in 1980 using camphor wood. Thematically, he combined Asian and Western features in the sculpture and mixed reality with fantasy to develop a certain spirituality. His trademark was to carve the hybrid figures from the waist up, each one different. Funakoshi used the wood grain as a visible carving strategy and left the marks from his carving tools. When he painted or polished the figure, Funakoshi generally left the crown or top of the head unpainted. He made the eyes luminescent, almost life-like, to engage the viewer. The materials he used for each sculpture were essential to him. Funakoshi stated, "I'm interested in human existence, a statement concerning humanity. The material I use-wood for sculpture, paper for the drawings, and charcoal or pencil-is important, it influences the result. I am seeking the perfect tension or moment between the material and the image."[6]

    Am I Floating? (7.8.10) is made from camphor wood, her arms and torso painted with light and almost translucent turquoise. Her shoulders are pushed upward, giving more room on her chest for the pendulous breasts. The statue is not decorated or distorted with other images, making her relatively simple. 

    a nude woman carved from wood
    Figure \(\PageIndex{10}\): Am I Floating? (2011, painted camphor wood, marble, 103.5 x 29 x 32 cm)  by Annie Guilloret,  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    A Lunar Eclipse in Forest (7.8.11) followed the same format for the image; only the torso is distorted, her neck elongated. Made from camphor wood and painted in tones of sienna, the body is the lightest section. Her hands appear as appendages on the rounded wings, and she stands on four thin legs helping to balance her spherical body. In Am I Floating?, the figure looks straight out at the viewer, while the figure looks downward in this image.

    a nude woman with sticks for legs, short arms and a large belly
    Figure \(\PageIndex{11}\): A Lunar Eclipse in Forest (2007, painted camphor wood, marble, miscellaneous wood, 212 x 134 x 139 cm) by jdlasica,   CC BY 2.0

    Liliane Lijn's

    Liliane Lijn's (1939-) mother came to New York City from Belgium, and Lijn was born four months later. They were European Jews who were escaping the beginning of the wars. When she was fourteen and Europe recovered from the war, the family moved to Switzerland. Lijn studied archaeology and art history in Paris, hanging out in cafes and discussing poetry when she started to draw. She was always interested in different materials and experimented with plastics and how it reflected light or moved. Her first idea was the Poem Machine, where she combined her love of poetry and experimental sculptures. The words in the sculpture (7.8.30) spin, blurring, and vibrating. Lijn believed the power of words was diminished, and she wanted to change the visual expression of poetry into sound. She wanted people to see sound. While she was in Paris, Lijn also noted the lack of women artists and started making forms resembling the power of females. Much of her early work was based on kinetic art, and she wanted to do more than make something move as she was very interested in the combination of art and science.

    a half circle with black text on white paper
    Figure \(\PageIndex{30}\): Poem Machines (1965) by dr vaxon,  CC BY 2.0

    Armoured Head (7.8.31) is a small sculpture Lijn made with wire mesh formed to surround a sphere. The wire becomes looser as it progresses upward, leaving a large opening at the top. In the center, the sphere is zinc blown glass with vertical lines. She made a series of different glass heads using the blow torch to create wounds on the head. Blowing glass was natural for Lijn as she used the scientific tools on her sculptures to display pain and suffering. Part of her investigation of glass was how light and the color spectrum reflected and changed the glass.

    wire wrapped around a shell like structure
    Figure \(\PageIndex{31}\): Amoured Head (1990, zinc blown glass and metal, 440 x 385 x 385 cm) by Loz Flowers,  CC BY-SA 2.0

    Extrapolation (7.8.32) was a sculpture Lijn created based on the concepts of a book and the layers of pages in a book, a continuation of her interest in words. The sculpture's layers of plates were held apart by spaces to allow light to flow through and a feeling of openness. 

    a metal sculpture of many sheets of metal cut into triangles
    Figure \(\PageIndex{32}\): Extrapolation (1982, stainless steel, 427 x 396.5 x 305 cm)  by mira66,  CC BY 2.0

    When the light shines on the panels (7.8.33), they reflect the sky, appearing as one piece.

    closeup of the metal triangles
    Figure \(\PageIndex{33}\): Extrapolation closeup, by Leo Reynolds,  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0



    [6] Retrieved from

    This page titled 11.2: Sculpture is shared under a All Rights Reserved (used with permission) license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Deborah Gustlin & Zoe Gustlin (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .

    • Was this article helpful?