Why do some sculptors--like our own illustrious Gilbert Boro--create multiple versions of the same work of art? It’s not just so that they can sell multiple copies of the same idea. Rather, the same composition can create different results when fabricated at a different size. Besides that, creating a piece as a smaller or larger version of itself can offer an artist some interesting challenges. Let’s take a moment to look at some of the challenges presented by creating a smaller version of a piece.
Well, this might seem like a gift--a larger piece that might require quite a bit of materials would surely be more work to produce than a smaller version...right?
Not necessarily. Sometimes creating the same effect with smaller materials and tools can be even more difficult than fabricating on a larger scale. This is because more intricacy is required. Everything has to be done with the highest level of skill.
While materials may cost less money in a smaller piece, that doesn’t mean the cost overall is always less. Sometimes it just takes longer to finesse smaller parts into the whole.
When it comes to sculptures, scale matters. We’ve talked about this before when we discussed where to place a sculpture. But if you’re going to create a sculpture, and you originally plan to place it outside, you might think about how it will look in various seasons, or changing light.
If you’re going to create a smaller version of a piece, you probably won’t have those concerns, which means you might make different decisions on materials or composition. You might want to solve a different sculptural “problem” with the same notion.
You might end up with a piece that looks slightly different from the original, which can create an exciting discussion of the theme of the work(s).
Speaking of composition, does the balance change with a smaller version of a piece? It can--and that can lead to compositional changes and shifts. It’s not uncommon to discover a whole new idea by making a smaller version of a piece.
You might decide to flip the composition, or change the focal point. If you’re creating a large-scale sculpture that people will be looking up at, and then you make a smaller version that will sit below their line of sight, does that necessitate a change in composition?
The answer is...it just might.
It’s no surprise to see a smaller version of a sculpture reach a broader audience. The private collector might not have the space to exhibit large works in the same way a university can, for example. Private collectors may enjoy being able to display your work indoors, on tabletops, or as centerpieces.
Then there’s the matter of cost. Even if a smaller sculpture can cost more on a ratio basis, chances are a one-foot-tall piece will cost less than a twelve-foot-tall piece. This opens sculptors up to a broader audience who might be more prepared to invest in the one-foot-tall piece.
There are merits to creating smaller versions of a sculpture, as you can see. At the end of the day, though, some sculptors just like to continue to play with an idea to see what new puzzles they can unlock.
Sculpting is, after all, puzzle-solving. Maybe Dan Brown will take this into account with his next book?