Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials, typically stone such as marble, metal, glass, or wood, or plastic materials such as clay, textiles, polymers and softer metals. The term has been extended to works including sound, text and light.
Found objects may be presented as sculptures. Materials may be worked by removal such as carving; or they may be assembled such as by welding , hardened such as by firing, or molded or cast. Surface decoration such as paint may be applied. Sculpture has been described as one of the plastic arts because it can involve the use of materials that can be moulded or modulated.
Sculpture is an important form of public art. A collection of sculpture in a garden setting may be referred to as a sculpture garden.
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Categories of Sculpture
Sculpture in the round and sculpture in relief are the two most basic categories of sculpture. Sculpture in the round is any sculpture completely detached from its original material so that it can be seen from all sides.
Sculpture in relief is the more pictorial than sculpture in the round because some of the original material remains and forms a background plane.
There are different degrees of relief. In high relief, the image stands out relatively far from the background plane. In low relief, also called bas-relief (bas means ‘low’ in French), the surface of the image is closer to the background plane.
Reliefs can also be sunken, in which case the image or its outline is slightly recessed into the surface plane, as in much in ancient Egyptian carving.
Techniques in Sculpture
Carving is a subtractive technique in which sculptor uses a sharp instrument such as a knife, gouge, or chisel to remove material from a hard substance such as bone, wood, or stone.
Modeling is an additive process and its materials are pliable rather than hard.
Reference: Adams, L.S., A History of Western Art (3rd Ed). McGraw Hill. New York: 2001.