What’s the Difference Between a Sculpture and a Statue

What’s the Difference Between a Sculpture and a Statue

What’s the Difference Between a Sculpture and a Statue

Statue and Sculpture are two words that are often confused due to the similarity in their meanings.

Strictly speaking, there is some difference between the two words. A statue is a large sculpture of a person or an animal. 

It is usually made of stone or any other metal like bronze.

On the other hand, a sculpture is a work of art, and it is produced by carving stone or wood or any other material for that matter.

This is the main difference between statues and Sculpture

Thus, a statue can be said to be a subset of Sculpture.

The Sculpture is a piece of art executed with creativity. On the other hand, the element of creativity is generally not found in making a statue. 

A statue can only be a replica, whereas a sculpture can be a replica or even a creative production.

The sculpture is a fine art, whereas the statue is not an aspect of fine art.

Thus, it can be said that a sculpture is a unique piece of art, but a statue cannot be a unique piece of art.

It is either the same or similar to the person or an animal model by which it is made.

This is an important difference between the two words.

It is important to know that both Sculpture and statues differ in terms of their size as well.

The size of a statue has to be big or life-size. On the other hand, a sculpture has no dimension.

It can be of any dimension. It can be modern in conception, too, whereas a statue cannot have a modern conception in its making.

A statue, thus, is very much likely to look like a person, whereas a sculpture is a creation based on pure imagination and creativity. 

For example, the Sculpture of a religious figure need not look exactly like the figure, for that matter.

It can be an imaginative creation as well. Since people never saw mythological characters, the sculptors used their imagination to a great extent to create their images.

Thus, images can be found in religious buildings. These images portray religious or mythological characters in an imaginative way.

Another important difference between Sculpture and statue is that Sculpture can be exhibited in group shows or one-man shows of creative artists.

On the other hand, statues cannot be exhibited in group shows or one-man shows. In fact, statues are meant for celebrations and worship.

Sculpture, too, is meant for worship based upon its religious significance. Primarily they are meant for visual enjoyment. Statues are not meant for visual enjoyment.

A sculptor enjoys more liberty and freedom when compared to a statue maker. This shows that Sculpture is a piece meant for appreciation.

It appeals definitely to the human mind. It is important to note that statues can sometimes be bigger than life-size.

The 7 Principles Of Art

Balance refers to the visual weight of the elements of the composition. It is a sense that the painting feels stable and "feels right."

Imbalance causes a feeling of discomfort in the viewer.

Balance can be achieved in 3 different ways: 

  • Symmetry, in which both sides of composition have the same elements in the same position, as in a mirror image, or the two sides of a face.
  • Asymmetry, in which the composition is balanced due to the contrast of any of the elements of art. For example, a large circle on one side of a composition might be balanced by a small square on the other side.
  • Radial symmetry, in which elements are equally spaced around a central point, as in the spokes coming out of the hub of a bicycle tire.

See the article, Balance, for some visual examples of how the elements of art can be used to achieve balance.

Contrast is the difference between elements of art in a composition, such that each element is made stronger in relation to the other. When placed next to each other, contrasting elements command the viewer's attention.

Areas of contrast are among the first places that a viewer's eye is drawn.

Contrast can be achieved by juxtapositions of any of the elements of art. Negative/Positive space is an example of contrast.

Complementary colours placed side by side is an example of contrast. Notan is an example of contrast. 

Emphasis is when the artist creates an area of the composition that is visually dominant and commands the viewer's attention. This is often achieved by contrast.

Movement is the result of using the elements of art such that they move the viewer's eye around and within the image. A sense of movement can be created by diagonal or curvy lines, either real or implied, by edges, by the illusion of space, by repetition, by energetic mark-making. 

The pattern is the uniform repetition of any of the elements of art or any combination thereof. Anything can be turned into a pattern through repetition. Some classic patterns are spirals, grids, weaves.

For examples of different patterns, types see the Artlandia Glossary of Pattern Design. Popular drawing practice is Zentangles, in which an abstract or representational outline is divided into different areas, each of which contains a unique pattern.

Rhythm is created by movement implied through the repetition of elements of art in a non-uniform but organized way. It is related to rhythm in music. Unlike pattern, which demands consistency, rhythm relies on variety.

Unity/Variety You want your painting to feel unified such that all the elements fit together comfortably. Too much unity creates monotony, too much variety creates chaos. You need both. Ideally, you want areas of interest in your composition along with places for your eye to rest. 

Principles Of Sculpture Design


It is doubtful whether any principles of sculpture design are universal in the Art of Sculpture as the principles of Sculpture that govern the organization of the elements of Sculpture into expressive compositions differ from style to style.

In fact, distinctions made among the major styles of Sculpture are largely based on a recognition of differences in the principles of design that underlie them. 

Thus, the art historian Erwin Panofsky was attempting to define a difference of principle in the design of Romanesque and Gothic Sculpture.

He stated that the forms of Romanesque were conceived as projections from a plane outside themselves. Those of Gothic were conceived as being centred on an axis within themselves.

The "principle of axiality" was considered by Panofsky to be "the essential principle of classical statuary," which Gothic had rediscovered.

The principles of sculptural design govern the approaches of sculptors to such fundamental matters as orientation, proportion, scale, articulation, and balance.

Axis and Planes

For conceiving and describing the orientation of the forms of Sculpture in relation to each other, to a spectator, and to their surroundings, some kind of spatial scheme of reference is required.

This is provided by a system of axes and planes of reference.

An axis is an imaginary centre line through asymmetrical or near-symmetrical volume or group of volumes that suggests the gravitational pivot of the mass. Thus, all the main components of the human body have axes of their own.

While an upright figure has a single vertical axis running through its entire length. Volumes may rotate or tilt on their axes.

Planes of reference are imaginary planes to which the movements, positions, and directions of volumes, axes, and surfaces may be referred.

The principal planes of reference are the frontal, the horizontal, and the two profile planes.

The principles of Sculpture that govern the characteristic poses and spatial compositions of upright figures in different styles of Sculpture are formulated with reference to axes and the four cardinal planes. For example:

The principle of axiality has already been referred to.

The principle of frontality, which governs the design of Archaic Sculpture. The characteristic contrapposto (pose in which parts of the body, such as upper and lower, tilt or even twist in opposite directions) of Michelangelo's figures.

And in standing Greek Sculpture of the Classical period, the frequently used balanced "chiastic" pose—stance in which the bodyweight is taken principally on one leg. Thereby creating a contrast of tension and relaxation between the opposite sides of a figure.

Linear Dimensions, Areas, Volumes And Masses


Proportional relations exist among linear dimensions, areas, and volumes and masses.

All three types of proportion coexist and interact in Sculpture, contributing to its expressiveness and beauty.

Attitudes toward proportion differ considerably among sculptors. 

Some sculptors, both abstract and figurative, use mathematical systems of proportion.

For example, the refinement and idealization of natural human proportions was a major preoccupation of Greek sculptors. Indian sculptors employed econometric canons or systems of carefully related proportions.

These determined the proportions of all significant dimensions of the human figure.

African and other tribal sculptors base the proportions of their figures on the subjective importance of the parts of the body.

Unnatural proportions may be used for expressive purposes or to accommodate a sculpture to its surroundings. 

The elongation of the figures on the Portail Royal ("Royal Portal") of Chartres cathedral does both: it enhances their otherworldliness and also integrates them with the columnar architecture.

Proportions of Sculpture

Sometimes it is necessary to adapt the proportions of Sculpture to suit its position in relation to a viewer.

A figure sited high on a building. 

For example, it is usually made larger in its upper parts in order to counteract the effects of foreshortening. 

This should be allowed for when a sculpture intended for such a position is exhibited on eye level in a museum.

The Scale of Sculpture

The scale of Sculpture must sometimes be considered in relation to the scale of its surroundings.

When it is one element in a larger complex, such as the facade of a building, it must be in scale with the rest. 

Another important consideration that sculptors must take into account when designing outdoor Sculpture is the tendency of Sculpture in the open-air—particularly when viewed against the sky—to appear less massive than it does in a studio.

Because one tends to relate the scale of Sculpture to one's own human physical dimensions, the emotional impact of a colossal figure and a small figurine is quite different.

Hierarchical Scale

In ancient and medieval Sculpture, the relative scale of the figures in a composition is often determined by their importance; e.g., slaves are much smaller than kings or nobles.

This is sometimes known as the hierarchic scale.

Different Styles Merge Together

The joining of one form to another may be accomplished in a variety of ways. In much of the work of the 19th-century French sculptor Auguste Rodin, there are no clear boundaries, and one form is merged with another in an impressionistic manner to create a continuously flowing surface.

In works by the Greek sculptor Praxiteles, the forms are softly and subtly blended by means of smooth, blurred transitions. 

The volumes of Indian Sculpture and the surface anatomy of male figures in the style of the Greek sculptor Polyclitus are sharply defined and clearly articulated.

One of the main distinctions between the work of Italian and Northern Renaissance sculptors lies in the Italians' preference for compositions made up of clearly articulated, distinct units of form and the tendency of the northern Europeans to subordinate the individual parts to the allover flow of the composition.

The balance, or equilibrium, of freestanding Sculpture, has three aspects. First, the Sculpture must have actual physical stability.

This can be achieved by natural balance—that is, by making the Sculpture stable enough in itself to stand firmly—which is easy enough to do with a four-legged animal or a reclining figure but not with a standing figure or a tall, thin sculpture, which must be secured to a base.

The second aspect of balance is compositional. 

The interaction of forces and the distribution of weight within a composition may produce a state of either dynamic or static equilibrium. The third aspect of balance applies only to Sculpture that represents a living figure.

A live human figure balances on two feet by making constant movements and muscular adjustments. Such an effect can be conveyed in Sculpture by subtle displacements of form and suggestions of tension and relaxation.

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