Carving and Casting
Sculptural technique falls into two basic categories, subtractive and additive. Carving is a subtractive technique. The final form is a reduction of the original mass of a block of stone, a piece of wood, or another material. Wood statues were once tree trunks, and stone statues began as blocks pried from mountains. The unfinished marble statue illustrated here (fig. 1) by renowned Italian artist
MichelanGelo buonarroti (1475–1564) clearly reveals the original shape of the stone block. Michelangelo thought of sculpture as a process of “liberating” the statue within the block. All sculptors of stone or wood cut away (subtract) “excess material.” When they finish, they “leave behind” the statue—in this example, a twisting nude male form whose head Michelangelo never freed from the stone block.
In additive sculpture, the artist builds up the forms, usually in clay around a framework, or armature. Or a sculptor may fashion a mold, a hollow form for shaping, or casting, a fluid substance such as bronze. The ancient Greek sculptor who made the bronze statue of a warrior found in the sea near Riace, Italy, cast the head (fig. 2) as well as the limbs, torso, hands, and feet (fig.3) in separate molds, and then welded them together (joined them by heating).
Finally, the artist added features, such as the pupils of the eyes (now missing) in other materials. The warrior’s teeth are silver, and his lower lip is copper.
Statues and busts (head, shoulders, and chest) that exist independent of any architectural frame or setting and that
viewers can walk around are freestanding sculptures, or sculptures in the round. In relief sculpture, the subjects project from the background but remain part of it. In high-relief sculpture, the images project boldly. In some cases (fig. 4), the relief is so high that not only do the forms cast shadows on the background, but some parts are in the round. In low relief, or bas-relief sculpture (fig. 5 ), the projection is slight. Artists can produce relief sculptures, as they do sculptures in the round, either by carving or casting.
People experience buildings both visually and by moving through and around them, so they perceive architectural space and mass together. Architects can represent these spaces and masses graphically in several ways, including as plans, sections, elevations, and cutaway drawings.
A plan, essentially a map of a floor, shows the placement of a structure’s masses and, therefore, the spaces they circumscribe and enclose. A section, a kind of vertical plan, depicts the placement of the masses as if the building were cut through along a plane. drawings showing a theoretical slice across a structure’s width are lateral sections. Those cutting through a building’s length are longitudinal sections. Illustrated here are the plan and lateral section
(fig. 6) of Beauvais Cathedral, which may be compared with the photograph of the church’s choir . The plan shows the choir’s shape and the location of the piers dividing the aisles and supporting the vaults above, as well as the pattern of the crisscrossing vau
lt ribs. The lateral section shows not only the interior of the choir with its vaults and stained-glass windows, but also the structure of the roof and the form of the exterior flying buttresses holding the vaults in place.