What Does Sculpture Have That Painting Doesn’t?

For  centuries, and especially in the Italian Renaissance, people have argued over which art form is superior: painting or sculpture? Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo famously discussed this issue in responses to each other’s writing in 15th and 16th century Italy.  Interestingly enough, many of their arguments stand true today. Here are the top four things  that sculpture has that painting does not.

1. Sculpture can be seen in the round. Painting on a flat surface, such as a canvas, does not allow the viewer to see the entirety of what is being portrayed. In sculpture, we can see the entirety of what the artist is rendering as the work is three dimensional.

2. Because of the three dimensionality of sculpture, sculptors have to think about and create every point of view. Sculptors have argued throughout the centuries that their art form is more difficult for this reason, and therefore superior to painting, as painters only have to perfect a single viewpoint.

3. Sculpture can be created out of endless mediums. This is not to say that there are not an incredible variety of ways to paint. However, within the area of clay ceramics alone, which will be exhibited at the Ceramics Annual of America, the options are seemingly endless. There is carving, casting, and modeling among other techniques with a variety of mediums including earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain.

4. The versatility of this medium calls for an entirely different skill set and discipline than painting does. Michelangelo argued that sculpture was superior to painting because he was only able to take away from the stone rather than add. With ceramic sculpture, artists are able to either add to or take away from their medium. This requires a vast amount of technique and decision making, arguably making sculpture a more complicated art form as the artists must manipulate the medium in ways that painters do not.


Snack Board

Claudia Tarantino, Snack Board, Porcelain Still Life

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