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Sculpting Defined: Traditional and Contemporary Materials

Sculpture is any three-dimensional form created as an artistic expression. Sculpture is primarily concerned with space: occupying it, relating to it, and influencing the perception of it.

The term also refers to the artistic discipline, act or art of making sculpture: changing one or more of the physical or contextual attributes of an object, such as its mass, color, texture, context, location, form, scale, implication, association, temperature or smell. Much contemporary sculpture transmits expression through arrangement and juxtaposition or by the simple designation of an object or even an act as sculpture.

The artist who sculpts is called a sculptor. A sculpted object or material has been worked to resemble sculpture either by human hands or by nature. A figure or person can be described as sculpturesque if it shares qualities with classical figurative sculpture or statue.

Traditional Materials for Sculpture
There is a wide range of what would be considered traditional materials for creating sculptures. These traditional sculpting materials include: stone, marble, limestone, Portland Stone, granite, porphyry, basalt, sandstone, soapstone, pipestone, alabaster, jade, clay, porcelain, terracotta, plaster, papier-mâché, metal, bronze, iron, copper, gold, wood, and living plants.

Contemporary Materials for Sculpture
In his late writings, Joan Miró even proposed that some day sculptures might be made of gases. Other materials used in modern and contemporary sculpture include: the environment, polymers (and many other synthetic materials), textiles, metal, aluminum, mercury, glass, sand, water, ice, snow, terra cotta, balloons, liquid crystals, frozen blood, dead animals, found objects, and sound. Perhaps the least elitist of these media is sand, as it is used by young and old to create sand castles.

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