Art History Lab

Monumental Sculptures That Define the Spirit of America and Brazil

Understanding Freestanding Sculptures

Sculptures have been a form of human expression since ancient times, and they are still widely popular today. One of the most common forms of sculpture is the freestanding sculpture, which is often placed on a pedestal or plinth for display.

In this article, we will explore the different types of sculpting methods used to create freestanding sculptures, what they are, how they differ from relief sculptures, and some examples of famous freestanding sculptures.

Sculpting Methods

The first step in creating a freestanding sculpture is to choose the sculpting method. There are three primary types of sculpting methods: additive sculpting, subtractive sculpting, and casting.

Additive sculpting is the process of adding material to create the sculpture. The sculptor begins with a preliminary shape and gradually adds more material to create intricate details.

The material used in additive sculpting varies but can include clay, plaster, wax, and plastic. Subtractive sculpting, on the other hand, is the process of removing material from the sculpture.

This method is often used with hard materials such as marble or granite, and the sculptor carefully chips away at the material to create the desired shape. Subtractive sculpting requires a high degree of skill, as the sculptor must be able to visualize the final product before they begin.

Casting is a method of creating sculptures where the sculptor makes a mold of the sculpture using a liquid material such as plaster or silicone. The mold is then filled with a material such as wax or clay, which is then hardened.

The hardened material is removed from the mold, and the final product is created using a variety of materials such as bronze or stone. What is a Freestanding Sculpture?

A freestanding sculpture is a three-dimensional work of art that is not attached to a wall or other surface. This type of sculpture is often placed on a pedestal or plinth for display in a public space or museum.

Freestanding sculptures come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials, ranging from small figurines to large statues. One of the defining characteristics of a freestanding sculpture is that it can be viewed from any angle, unlike a relief sculpture that is attached to a backing and can only be viewed from the front.

Difference Between Relief and Freestanding Sculptures

Relief sculptures are similar to freestanding sculptures but have one important difference: they have a background. Relief sculptures are often attached to a wall or other surface and have a flat background that provides a level of dimension to the work.

Relief sculptures can be further divided into two main types: lower relief and higher relief. Lower relief sculptures have a shallow background, with the figures or objects protruding only slightly from the background.

Higher relief sculptures have a much deeper background, with the figures or objects protruding more significantly.

Examples of Freestanding Sculptures

Freestanding sculptures are found all around the world, from ancient civilizations to contemporary artists. Some of the most well-known freestanding sculptures include:

The Statue of Liberty: Located in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is a towering sculpture that represents freedom and democracy.

It was a gift from the French people to the United States, commemorating the centennial of America’s independence. –

Christ the Redeemer: Located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,

Christ the Redeemer is a massive statue of Jesus Christ that stands over 98 feet tall.

It is one of the largest art deco sculptures in the world and has become a symbol of the city of Rio de Janeiro. In conclusion, freestanding sculptures are a fascinating art form that has been around for centuries.

They are created using a variety of sculpting methods, including additive sculpting, subtractive sculpting, and casting. Freestanding sculptures are not attached to walls or other surfaces, allowing them to be viewed from any angle.

They differ from relief sculptures in that they do not have a background. Some of the world’s most famous freestanding sculptures include the Statue of Liberty and

Christ the Redeemer.

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, one of the most iconic landmarks of New York City, is a symbol of freedom and democracy, known around the world. This colossal copper statue stands at 151 feet tall and has become a beacon of hope to immigrants, refugees, and many others who seek a better life in the United States.

In this article, we will explore its history, symbolism, and description. Frdric Auguste Bartholdi, Sculptor

The sculptor behind the Statue of Liberty was Frdric Auguste Bartholdi.

He was a French sculptor who first conceived the idea of a statue dedicated to liberty when he visited the United States in 1871. Bartholdi was fascinated by American history and the ideals that America stood for – liberty, democracy, and the pursuit of happiness.

He believed that a monument to liberty would not only honor the United States but also symbolize the common values of France and the United States, which were linked by their shared history of fighting for freedom.

History and Symbolism

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the United States. It was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and its purpose was to commemorate the centennial of America’s independence.

The statue is made of copper and was constructed in parts in France, then shipped to the United States in 214 crates. It took four months to assemble the statue on its pedestal on Liberty Island.

The statue’s symbolism is centered around freedom and liberty. The statue is a representation of Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty.

She holds a torch in her right hand, which symbolizes enlightenment, and a tablet in her left hand, which bears the date of America’s Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776. The statue’s full name is “

The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.”


The Statue of Liberty is made of copper and stands on a pedestal made of granite and concrete. The statue itself is 151 feet tall from the base to the tip of the torch and weighs approximately 225 tons.

The statue’s exterior is made of copper sheets that are only 3/32 of an inch thick, or about the thickness of two pennies. The copper has oxidized over time to create a distinctive green patina that is synonymous with the statue.

The statue’s torch has gone through several transformations over the years. Originally, it was illuminated by electricity and had a gold-plated flame.

In 1916, the statue’s torch was modified to include a copper flame covered in 24-carat gold leaf. Today, the torch is illuminated by floodlights and is no longer open to the public due to safety concerns.

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer is one of the most iconic landmarks in South America. This colossal soapstone statue of Jesus Christ stands at 98 feet tall and is located on top of Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The statue, which has become a symbol of Christianity and Brazilian culture, attracts millions of visitors every year. In this article, we will explore its history, origins, purpose, and description.

Paul Landowski, Sculptor

The sculptor behind

Christ the Redeemer was Paul Landowski, a French sculptor of Polish descent. Landowski won an international competition in the early 1920s to design the statue of

Christ the Redeemer.

He worked in collaboration with Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and French architect Albert Caquot to create the final design.

Origins and Purpose

The idea for

Christ the Redeemer was first proposed in the 1850s by a Brazilian Catholic priest named Father Pedro Maria Boss. However, the project did not gain traction until the early 20th century when Brazil was experiencing significant political and social change.

The statue was seen as a symbol of hope and renewal, and it was designed to promote the values of Christianity in a rapidly changing world. Construction of the statue began in 1922 and took nine years to complete.

It was financed entirely by the Brazilian government and constructed using funds from the Catholic Church. The statue was inaugurated on October 12, 1931, and has become a popular site for religious pilgrimages and tourism.


Christ the Redeemer is made of soapstone and stands on top of a pedestal made of reinforced concrete. The statue is 98 feet tall and weighs approximately 635 metric tons.

It depicts Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched, gazing down over Rio de Janeiro. The statue’s arms are 92 feet wide, and the distance between the statue’s fingers is 92 feet as well.

Christ the Redeemer’s construction was a technological feat for its time. The statue was constructed in segments and transported to the top of Mount Corcovado using a small railway.

The statue’s head and arms were constructed separately and later attached to the body. Over the years, the statue has undergone several renovations and repairs to keep it in good condition.

In conclusion, both the Statue of Liberty and

Christ the Redeemer are iconic monumental sculptures that represent significant ideals for their respective countries. They are immense art forms drawn from the soil and have come to define the spirit of America and Brazil.

The creations of such grand monuments stand to remind us about our values and ethics that we as human beings must uphold in our individual capacities. In conclusion, the Statue of Liberty and

Christ the Redeemer are two of the world’s most remarkable sculptural accomplishments.

Both monumental sculptures are not only pieces of art but also symbols of the values they represent.

The Statue of Liberty represents freedom and liberty, while

Christ the Redeemer stands as a symbol of Christianity and Brazilian culture.

From the origin stories to the materials used in these monumental creations, each sculpture is a testament to the incredible work of its creators. The continuous celebration of these two remarkable giant sculptures propels humanity towards values that enable them to make a positive impact on society.

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