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Looking at sculpture


Sculpture had a major role in Western culture. The great sculptural figures of Ancient Greece and Rome (Fig. 11) were an important influence on the development of Renaissance art. In addition, architectural sculpture was one of the main forms of monumental religious art (Fig. 12) in Europe.


Great leaders and important events are often commemorated in sculptural works. These works can be interesting, but abstract sculpture allows for a wide variety of thoughts and emotions.


We identify with sculpture in quite a different way compared to painting because it is three- dimensional and more interactive.


Sculpture is bold and noticeable and occupies space in much the same way as humans do (Fig. 13). It changes as we move around it. We can feel its various textures and forms, but each of us sees it in a different way.


Fig. 11 Apollo Belvedere, Vatican Museum, Rome. Pope Julius II had this and other Roman statues transferred to the Vatican, where it has remained since at least 1508. The god Apollo moves forward majestically. He seems to have just released an arrow from the bow that he originally carried in his left hand. The work has been dated to midway through the 2nd century AD but owes its fame to the German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann. He believed this statue represented ‘the highest ideal of art’.


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Fig. 12 Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, 1647–52, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. Bernini’s sculptural group shows a cupid-like angel holding an arrow. Teresa herself collapses, overcome with the feeling of God’s love. Her body appears to have dissolved into the twisting folds of the drapery. Despite being made of heavy marble, saint and angel, set upon a cloud, appear to float weightlessly.


APPRECIATING ART

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