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Venus von Willendorf , oolite, a sedimentary rock, around 25,000 BC Chr.
Michelangelo : David , monumental marble statue, Florence, 1504

A sculpture is a three-dimensional, physical object of the visual arts . The terms sculpture and plastic are largely identical. On the one hand, both designate a single work of art (also called picture work ), on the other hand, they are applied to sculpture as a whole as a genre of art .

The originally differentiated meaning - a sculpture is created by hewing and carving, a sculpture, on the other hand, by applying material and modeling - is rarely used today.

Change of meaning

The word sculpture has been in use as a loan word from Latin since the 18th century . The Latin sculptura is derived from the verb sculpere , which means “to carve” or “chisel”, meaning the activity of the sculptor who works with wood or stone. The word initially had this meaning in German: In a sculpture, material is removed, either with a knife and chisel (when carving ) or with a chisel (in stone carving ). The artwork is carved out of the block ("cut" or "hewn").

On the other hand, there is sculpture (in the original or narrower sense), the shape of which is created by “applying” soft material and building it up from the inside out. Metallic materials are more likely to be built up and processed (modeled, assembled, welded) or cast in shape (see artificial casting ).

Today only a few specialist authors differentiate strictly between plastic and sculpture in the original sense. Especially in contemporary art (with assemblages or collage-like room installations ) this differentiation is not applicable to many pictorial works, so that the two terms can hardly be used in the sense of different art genres. In the case of individual works, it is easier to judge whether plastic or sculpture is the appropriate expression. Nevertheless, the terms are now largely interchangeable with reference to individual works of art.

In architecture , the term large-scale sculpture is used for buildings if they are viewed as works of art.

See also


  • Stefan Dürre: Seemanns Lexicon of Sculpture: Sculptor, Epochs, Themes, Techniques . EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 2007, ISBN 978-3-86502-101-4

Web links

Commons : Sculptures  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ F. Kluge; E. Seebold: Etymological dictionary of the German language . 24th edition Berlin, New York 2002: de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-017473-1 , keyword sculpture .
  2. See Duden online: Sculpture