Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Processes of Sculpting

Michelangelo's David, photo courtesy
of Wikipedia CC
           There are three processes for creating sculptural pieces, all utilized during the Renaissance in Florence.  Each process is significantly different from the other; but all can create sculptures in the round.
            Michelangelo’s 17 foot tall David, sculpted between 1501-1504, was created using the subtractive process of carving marble.  Michelangelo characteristically used only one block of marble – in this case Carrara marble – to carve his sculptures.  David, meant to be viewed in the round, was commissioned by the Medici family and unveiled in 1504; and was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.  Currently residing in the Musei Accadaemia, the sculpture was a monument to the wealth and power of Florence during the Medici rein. 
Donatello's David, photo courtesy of
Wikipedia CC
            Eighty years prior, Donatello used the casting process to create his own David for the Medici family.  Circa 1430-1440, the Donatello David was made through a hollowed molding process of wax or clay, in which molten bronze was placed and hardened.  This statue, originally placed in the courtyard of the Palazzo Medici in Florence (currently in the Musei Bargello), was the first free-standing bronze statue of the Renaissance and is also viewed in the round.
The Virgin of the Lillies, photo courtesy of Wikipedia CC
            Modeled sculpture in Florence is more difficult to find – sculptors of the Renaissance built large statues out of bronze or marble.  However, small models or decorative pieces can be found, made out of such popular materials as terracotta.  Circa 1500-1550, the Workshop of Della Robbia family in Florence created a decorative “tondo”, or medallion out of glazed terracotta.  Entitled The Virgin of the Lillies, this piece is meant to hang on a wall.  An additive process, modeling basically takes a pliable material and builds it into

a three dimensional form.  This process allows the artist to rework the material in case of error, but can also leave little evidence of the artist’s fingerprints.  

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