History of Wall Sculpture
Wall sculptures originated as far back as the Paleolithic era and were a common artistic medium in ancient civilizations around the world. These early relief sculptures were carved in low relief into buildings and walls in Egyptian, Assyrian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Islamic, and Mixtec civilizations and usually held some sort of narrative significance, be it historical or religious. High relief carvings with more depth and perspective appeared in Classical antiquity and were common on medieval European churches. Contemporary wall sculptures, though not necessarily carved into stone, stem from this practice. Early modern wall sculptures played with perspective and ideas of space. By the 1960s and 1970s, many artists became more concerned with critiquing the art world and its practices. By creating sculptures to display on walls, as opposed to traditional pedestals, these artists broke away from typical institutional practices and pushed the boundaries and definitions of what is considered to be art. Today, artists continue to create wall sculptures and art in a variety of mediums and styles.
Wall Sculpture Techniques
Early wall sculptures were added to panels on large monuments and sites of worship where a large audience would benefit from the work’s intended message. These sculptors chiseled directly into the building, carving figures at different depths to achieve more realistic perspective and detail. Some sculptors similarly played with perspective and depth on a smaller scale, creating wall sculptures and art that combined several mediums. Picasso’s wall sculptures, for example, jutted out to into the viewer’s space to different extents. Some artists attached real, found objects to canvas supports or painted their sculptures before displaying them, creating works that border the line between three-dimensional sculpture and a flat painting.
Artists Known For Wall Sculpture
Robert Rauschenberg’s “Bed” (1955) is an assemblage piece that demonstrates artists’ desire to create objects situated between sculpture and painting. For this work, Rauschenberg attached real objects, including a pillow and quilt, to a canvas, which was then hung on a wall like a painting. Grego Colson is similarly known for constructing wall sculptures like from found materials. Pablo Picasso is known for his series of Cubist wall sculptures “Guitar” (1912-14). He created the guitar in a series of disjointed and skewed planes. Richard Artschwager painted his wood wall sculptures like “Journal II” (1991) with acrylic paint before having them placed on the corner points of walls for display. Other artists associated with wall sculptures include Bruce Gray, Alexander Calder, and Vladimir Tatlin.