Sculpture: In the round – what a relief! Apr06

Sculpture: In the round – what a relief!...

Throughout history, sculpture has been used primarily as a monument art form. The earliest sculptures were thought to be made to supply “magic” to help hunters in their quests. Later, as civilization unfolded, sculpture took the form of gods or ancient kings; likenesses carved to honor greatness. In 15th C. Italy, sculpture of biblical heroes adorned the streets. Military victories were depicted by the ancient Sumerian sculptors. Even today, great writers or politicians are honored with likenesses in parks or government buildings.  It’s all around, but what do we really know about the art form? Sculpture is a branch of visual arts depicted in three-dimension. It is the carving (removal of) or modeling (addition of) of material to depict an image or scene. Typical materials used include stone, metal, ceramics, wood, glass and in more recent times, other materials, since Modernism took the sculptural process to an almost complete freedom of material use and process. Where sculptors used to carve or model, now they can cast or weld together found objects or materials that were not available in ancient times. The sky’s the limit in today’s sculptural world. There are two basic types of sculpture. Sculpture in the round; a free-standing sculpture that is not connected to anything except at the base, and relief sculpture; sculpture which is attached to a background and can’t be viewed from all angles. Relief sculpture is typically classified by the amount of projection it has from the wall; bas-relief, mid-relief, and high-relief. Bas-relief having the lowest depth of carving and then moving up to high-relief or that which is carved more deeply into the object. Much of relief sculpture is seen on architecture or decorating objects such as pottery. The term sculpture also includes many types of smaller...

Behold the Cave of the Thousand Buddhas Jan12

Behold the Cave of the Thousand Buddhas...

If I were fortunate enough to be able to travel to China, I would make the Mogao Caves near the city of Dunhuang a primary stop as the artifacts housed within these sandstone cliffs rival that of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City or the famous Terracotta Warriors. Impressive yet understated on the outside, these caverns carved within the cliffs near the edge of the Gobi Desert hide an unrivaled collection of Buddhist art, including over 2,400 sculptures and miles of murals spanning a period of 1,000 years, from the North Wei to the Yuan Dynasty. Once inside these modest-looking caves, you’ll discover a temple-like architecture filled with amazing statuary and wall murals that make this more than a cave with prehistoric wall paintings. According to legend, these caves were created in 366 C.E, when a traveling monk named Lè Zūn was inspired to build the first cave after experiencing a vision of a thousand Buddhas bathed in golden light. Later, he was joined by another monk, and the cave numbers grew. The caves were first used as a place for meditation, to serve the monasteries in the area. Since Dunhuang was a major trade route that linked China to the Mediterranean, travelers often came through the area, commissioning caves (all created by the monks) as offerings for safety and prosperity. The caves then lay dormant for nearly 600 years, when the Mongols invaded the area making travel to the area unsafe. Much later in 1900, interest was revived when Wang Yuanlu, a Taoist priest and self-appointed guardian of the caves, decided to do some restoration and discovered thousands of Buddhist scrolls in one of the caves. Discovery of these manuscripts brought much attention from Europe and archeological world. If the statuary and murals contained...