On a Pedestal: Marble-ous Words for Sculpture

Sculpture is likely the most ancient of all arts, possibly going back half a million years to the pre-human era. Whatever style you prefer, this list will help you shape your vocabulary into a work of art.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. assemblage
    several things grouped together or considered as a whole
    The prevailing energy in Mr. Lind-Ramos’s assemblages is vibrant, even joyous.New York Times (Apr 1, 2020)
    Sculptures made from things, often found objects, rather than raw materials, are called assemblages. Joseph Cornell made a series of beautiful, poetic assemblages inside wooden boxes.
  2. bust
    a sculpture of the head and shoulders of a person
    There’s also a golden bust of Chairman Mao and a hefty book about the Beninese politician Robert Dossou.The Guardian (Apr 2, 2020)
  3. carve
    engrave or cut by chipping away at a surface
    “We knew it was his because Dad carved his initials in it.”Golf Digest (Apr 7, 2020)
  4. chisel
    an edge tool with a flat steel blade with a cutting edge
    Holding the barrel in his strong fingers like a chisel, he hit the other end with his mallet, tapping long slices of wood away from the inside of the log.The Birchbark House
    If you want to carve a piece of stone or wood into a sculpture, you'll need a chisel to do it.
  5. conceptual
    being or characterized by ideas or their formation
    In the landmark 1972 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” a precursor of sorts to the Houston show, the Radicals were largely represented as designers of conceptual environments.New York Times (Mar 12, 2020)
    Art that deals primarily with ideas rather than images or objects is called conceptual art. The definition of sculpture has expanded dramatically in recent decades, and can include all sorts of materials and technologies. Joseph Beuys and Yoko Ono, both members of the Fluxus movement, were very influential in the development of conceptual art.
  6. installation
    the act of setting something up for use
    In February, fiber artist Tanya Aguiñiga, who is known for her large-scale woven installations, opened a solo exhibition at Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts.Los Angeles Times (Apr 3, 2020)
    Installation art is usually large-scale, often filling a whole gallery, and can use all sorts of materials and media, including sound, video, and performance. Ann Hamilton is a famous American installation artist.
  7. kinetic
    relating to the motion of material bodies and their forces
    It’s fair to say that El Greco sought to unite the color and touch of Venetian-style oil painting with Michelangelo’s kinetic, questing, spirit-convulsed bodies in complex space.Washington Post (Mar 25, 2020)
    In physics, kinetic energy is the energy of movement. A kinetic sculpture moves, whether powered by a motor or the wind. Jean Tinguely was probably the most famous kinetic sculptor of the 20th century. Nikki de Saint-Phalle, his wife, was also a sculptor; among many other works she designed the fountain next to the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
  8. mold
    the distinctive form in which a thing is made
    Pour the mixture into 4-ounce molds, such as small paper cups.Washington Post (Apr 2, 2020)
  9. pedestal
    an architectural support or base
    There’s a sloping, wooded traffic island there right in the middle of Riverside Drive, and at its peak, atop a narrow pedestal of Mohegan granite, sits Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington’s gorgeous equestrian bronze.New York Times (Mar 19, 2020)
  10. plastic
    capable of being molded or modeled
    She follows my gaze to the lump of shattered plastic and metal on the floor beneath the window.How It Went Down
    Plastic, the noun, refers to the material we all know well. As an adjective, though, plastic describes something like modeling clay: easy to shape or form.
  11. rasp
    a coarse file with sharp pointed projections
    First, smooth rough edges with a rasp, file or sandpaper, and hand-plane or sand smooth the slab’s top surface.Seattle Times (Nov 1, 2017)
  12. weld
    join together by heating
    In some areas, street light access doors are being welded shut.Washington Times (Apr 9, 2020)
    Welding uses intense heat created by electricity or burning gas to melt metal so that pieces can be fused together. David Smith was an American sculptor famous for his welded steel works.
Created on January 14, 2020 (updated April 12, 2020)

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