Not everyone can work with metal as an art medium, but the material does provide flexibility and durability. Artists who create with this material must choose what kind of metal is most suitable for their envisioned form. In discussing the types of metal sculptures, it is necessary to consider the kinds of metal that can be used and the types of shapes that are created for different purposes.
Types of Metal
The most common metals used for sculpture are steel, bronze, copper and iron. Dimensions Thru Art highlights the color-changing ability of copper as an attractive artistic medium. Depending on whether the metal is treated with chemicals, heat or left alone, it can offer a wide range of iridescent surfaces. Brass and bronze are two forms of metal that are closely related and often used for cast-metal sculptures. About Sculptures, a resource for those interested in learning more about the art, claims bronze is the most common medium for sculpture because of the detail that can be achieved. Iron is one of the most common types of metal available on the planet and steel is an alloy of that substance. Dimensions Thru Art suggest it is the best option for outdoor use because of its strength and durability.
Forms of Sculptures
Metal sculptures can take on as many different forms as exist in nature as well as several abstract forms. Outdoor Metal Sculptures conducted an online survey of the types of metal art available and list 10 major categories of outdoor metal sculpture. These include wild animals, religious motifs, pets, birds, water-related animals such as turtles, seahorses and fish–and also people, fountains, wired caricatures, landscapes, still life, leaves, florals, trees and abstracts.
Uses of Forms
Sculptures created with metal can have numerous different uses. Some of these sculptures, as mentioned by Outdoor Metal Sculptures, can be used as fountain pieces. However, Dimensions Thru Art suggests not using iron or steel for this purpose. Other sculptures are used to decorate the front of large commercial settings, the private areas of individual gardens or even to create public parks such as that developed by sculptor Tom Otterness–where people are encouraged to interact with the art.
Several metal sculptures are created specifically for indoor use. These can be used as wall hangers or to fill up an otherwise empty lobby area. While items such as the simple comb-like fish pictured here are common indoor metal sculptures, there is significant scope for creativity. The Octopus chandelier and Bonsai Tree Rail created by sculptor Chris Williams are examples of indoor functional metallic art.