3 Reasons Why Bronze Is the Ideal Medium For Outdoor Sculptures
Bronze has been a sculpting medium that’s signified wealth and prestige for more than a few millenia. Not only is the oldest alloy to have made its way into the hands of sculptors, but it’s still widely used, especially for creating larger-than-life works of art to be placed outdoors. We see these statues everywhere: from that quaint statue of a man reading the newspaper on a park bench by the town square -to the grandeurous works adorning the tops of government building rotundas.
But more specifically, what is it about bronze, which makes it the ideal medium for outdoor sculptures? While bronze is an alloy that’s quite susceptible to oxidization (rust), this is actually easy and inexpensive to prevent -provided the iconic green-look isn’t originally what the sculptor had in mind for the statue.
#1 – Maintenance and Cleaning Is Cheap and Easy
One interesting aspect about bronze is the fact that some sculptors and patrons actually prefer to allow the oxidization process to take place. This process gives way to that naturally occurring bright green coating, and it’s also the bronze rust itself which can provide a protective coating to the piece. Also, this color is notorious among older bronze sculptures and gives it a look of antiquity.
Yet at the same time, this ‘older-look’ might not necessarily be what the sculpture’s owner wants, and instead, would like to keep its original vibrant bronze patina and richness of color. Believe it or not, this can easily be done by…
- First, using unscented conventional dishwashing soap to clean off any dirt or dust on the sculpture’s surface (especially avoid lemon-scents, as this will alter the pH and dissolve the original finish).
- Then, waxing the sculpture, using commonly available products that can be bought cheaply at most hardware stores -such as Johnson’s Clear Paste Wax.
Once water stops beading off the surface of the sculpture, then you’ll know that it’s time to clean the piece with dish soap and apply the wax.
#2 – Bronze Can Be Worked Into Absolutely Gorgeous Detail
Another major reason why the medium has been used since 3150 BC is because of its notorious precision. Because bronze is an copper-based alloy that has a lower melting point than steel or iron, it freely allows the artist to cut even the most minute details into the casting. Once the casting has effectively hardened (and hardens rather quickly), those exact details are then preserved in the sculpture.
Also, whereas metals like bronze and copper might have lower melting points, copper remains very soft, while bronze becomes very hard. This hardness factor allows for bronze sculptures to retain these specific details even in outdoor conditions.
The other interesting part, concerning the ability for artists to apply intricate details to their sculptures, it means that no two bronze sculptures are alike. This is one reason why bronze sculptures can be very expensive and are a symbol of wealth and status.
#3 – Bronze Is the Medium of the Masters
According to the Encyclopedia of Art, bronze has found its place in the hands of more than a few of the world’s most well-known artists throughout human history:
“Almost all the greatest sculptors have used bronze casting at some point in their careers, including famous Greek sculptors (such as Phidias, Myron and Polykleitos), Renaissance artists like Donatello (1386-1466), Antonio Pollaiuolo (1432-98), Andrea del Verrochio (1435-88), and Benvenuto Cellini (1500-71), as well as Giambologna (1529-1608), Francois Girardon (1628-1715), and Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Twentieth century sculptors who have excelled in bronze include: Brancusi (1876-1957), Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967), Henry Moore (1898-1986), Giacometti (1901-66) and John De Andrea (b.1941), to name but a few.”
From ancient Egypt to Greece to Rome to the Renaissance, there is simply no shortage of bronze sculptures that have found their way into renowned art antiquity and museums worldwide. Not only did this alloy provide a medium that gave these master sculptors a way to express their visions in absolutely breathtaking detail, but many of these very statues are still standing into the 21st century.
Why You Need the Right Foundry for the Job
It is true that bronze offers an absolutely fantastic alloy medium for artists to produce stunning sculpture masterpieces, but let’s forget the complexity involved with taking a project from the drawing board to the sandblaster.
With that said, such a complex process requires a foundry that is known for their ability to work seamlessly with the artist in the production of these priceless works. That’s why Montclair Bronze takes pride in its foundry’s reputation, and why sculptors in southern California trust us to place the finishing and lasting touches on their prized pieces.
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