When considering building an art collection, sculpture may not be the first thing that comes to mind. After all, sculpture cannot be simply placed on a large wall, to fit in with an already-organized room. Choosing and placing sculpture is often thought of as a task for professionals, and therefore too many budding collectors overlook collecting sculpture. However, by ignoring sculpture, you are disregarding an important part of contemporary art and missing out on the many beautiful works available (not to mention at a more competitive price than paintings or other mediums due to the unfamiliarity of sculpture. Let’s consider some pointers should you decide to delve into the world of collecting sculpture. These tips will help you find pieces which speak to you, complement your space, and start new conversations:
Sculpture is a 3D art form, created by the manipulation of a solid material (i.e. bronze, marble, wood), focusing on form and space. There are many types of sculpture, including:
- Portrait busts
- Abstract forms
- Natural shapes
Contemporary sculpture is known for NOT representing anything literally in nature (although an abstract sculpture can represent the artist’s interpretation of the real world), but more as something to invoke feelings from the viewer. There are several techniques and processes used in creating sculpture, and sculpture can be created as one unique piece, or cast so that multiple pieces can be created (editions). One major change in sculpture during the 20th century is the shift in focus from the subject matter to the object itself.
Don’t be afraid to add sculpture to your collection! There are some distinct advantages to collecting sculpture, including:
- Several viewpoints—enjoy your art from many angles
- No need to rearrange your walls
- Paintings have color & design, while sculpture adds depth. Collectors report having a true connection to their sculptures
Follow Your Eye (and Heart)
Like other art forms, choose a sculpture that attracts you. Since contemporary sculpture is not straightforward, it is especially important to stay focused on a period, medium, and style you may be attracted to. It is important to become familiar with the variety of styles and materials available, and consider where you want to display the pieces. Since this is still an underappreciated genre of art, there are many pieces to be purchased at a reasonable price. Add sculpture to your established collection, following the art period you are drawn to. You will find more cohesion in your collection if you stay focused.
Consider Your Space and Needs
No matter how much you love that 8-foot bronze sculpture, if you don’t have a place to display it, you probably shouldn’t purchase it! Along with space considerations, there is the matter of material, especially if you are considering a more delicate medium. Some pieces are well-suited for a garden, while others require a more controlled environment. When placing the piece in a room, can you admire it from all angles? When you view a piece from many angles (part of what makes sculpture unique), different feelings may be invoked.
Gather Artist Information
When you attempt to “read” a work of sculpture, you may find some thoughts help you to relate to the piece. Look at other works from the same artist and note the conception date, as it may help your understanding of the piece when placed in the context of the artist’s world at that time. Additionally, find out if the artist was influenced by another and consider other mediums which the artist may have worked with (alternatively, if there is a painter or other type of artist you enjoy, look for sculptures he or she may have created). There may be other casts in the same edition as the piece you are looking at; some may be essentially the same, but others may be drastically different, telling a distinctive story.
Look for Artists’ Marks
This is one way to validate an artist’s piece. These can vary from one sculpture (and artist) to another, but are typically found on the base or back of large sculptures. On smaller pieces, the artist may have placed the mark on the bottom or sides of the work. Artists change their marks over time, so you may just identify an artist’s work based on style alone. Other artists leave no marks on their work; in this case, an expert may be needed to determine the artist and authenticate the sculpture with provenance, bills of sale, and appraisals.
Although choosing a display location for art is based much on personal choice, here are some tips to help:
- Small sculptures (under 10” tall) are best suited for a desk or shelf. These are more intimate pieces which you want to have close to you.
- Large sculptures are best suited for the center of a large room or (if the medium is durable), outside in a garden. Bronze is particularly resilient, and an appropriate choice for an outside location.
- Lighting is a key element for this 3D artwork. Should you place sculpture in the center of a room, or for a piece which is on a pedestal or base, it should be lit by four directions to ensure symmetrical shadows.
- Some pieces require only general lighting, as direct light may cast shadows on certain areas of the sculpture. Bronze is a medium which appears best under general light, as does marble, which is washed out by direct lighting.
- Touch your sculptures! One reason for collecting sculpture is the tactile experience one feels with sculpture. Sculpture is a SENSUAL form of art, and touch is one sense unique to this type of art.
Gain Confidence in Collecting Sculptures
Pablo Picasso called sculpture “the art of the intelligence”. Due to its uniqueness (as opposed to art which is hung on the wall), beginning collectors are often hesitant to dive into collecting sculpture. However, the benefits of having sculpture in your home or office are great: the sensual experience, the multi-angled view, the interest sculpture arouses in visitors, and the relative affordability are good reasons to add sculpture to your art collection. The field of sculpture has expanded, and there are thousands of pieces available to fit any space, taste, and budget!
At Sybaris, we cherish the tangible quality of sculpture and strive to find unique pieces to complement your taste throughout the world. Focusing on cultural and heritage art, consider adding a touch of another civilization to your home or office! Browse through our collection or let Sybaris Collection do the work for you! We attend art fairs and events worldwide and collect unique and amazing pieces. Our free art advisory service can help determine what you are looking for, shop on your behalf, or share with you some pieces we have discovered. For those with a more discriminating taste, our ARTclub provides you with exclusive pieces offered only to members.