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Sculpture - Metal
The metal sculpture might be relatively new compared to stone and wood sculptures, but it’s still thousands of years old. Humans have been able to smelt metal ore into usable forms for a long time, but still, it’s only in recent years that metal has become as affordable and easy to work with as it is today thanks to modern technology.
With this being said, there were a lot more metal sculptures in the past than you might imagine. For example, there were once dozens of metal statues of gods and goddesses lining the Colosseum in Rome, but none are left there today. The reason for this particular case and the general lack of ancient metal sculptures is the fact that metal was relatively rare and yet easy to melt down and repurpose. When the Colosseum fell out of regular use, and the need for metal arose, the statues were taken down, melted, and turned into more practical products. Still, some ancient metal statues do remain.
Metals Used to Make Sculptures
It’s important to remember that the term metal covers a wide range of different materials. 91 of the 118 different elements that make up the periodic table are defined as metals, but not all of them can be used to make sculptures. The first metals used in both sculpting and more practical metalworking were copper and bronze. Hence the bronze age. Gold and silver were also used early on because they are easier to reshape without high temperatures. But because of their rarity, they were much more commonly used in jewellery rather than sculpture. Iron came next. Today we also have materials like tin and steel, alongside a range of alloys and mixtures. The modern sculptors have plenty of options to choose from if they wish to make a metal sculpture.
Important Metal Sculptures
“The Thinker” by Rodin is one of the most famous sculptures ever made, metal or otherwise. It’s an image of a nude figure sitting on a rock, his chin in his hand. This image is so famous that it has become an icon representing intellectuals and deep thought. It was originally designed to be the centrepiece of a monumental art piece, but it became so popular that Rodin agreed to make copies. You can find replicated "thinkers" all throughout the globe. The most famous modern metal sculpture is probably “Charging Bull”. This bronze statue was put up on Wall Street by Arturo Di Modica as a criticism of the local culture, but traders and tourists alike came to love it.