Famous Sculptures in the United States

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The word ‘sculpture’ originated from the Latin root Sulpere, meaning to carve or engrave. Sculpture has evolved along with civilization and progressed hand in hand with it in different forms and in different regions of the world. Greek and Roman sculpture remains unparalleled in terms of skill and beauty. Sculptural masterpieces are on display in different museums of the world, particularly in Rome. Mostly, clay, stone, metal, and wood have been used in sculptures. Sculpture in America evolved from the Aztecs and Mayan civilizations. Spanish and British styles, too, influenced American sculpture. In the great sculptures of the world, the nude human figure, like that of David, had been extensively used, but this trend did not flourish in the United States. The predominant trend in American sculpture is influenced by journalistic realism. Independence has been a particularly predominant theme.

1. The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty

There is nothing more iconic to the United States than the Statue of Liberty. Located on Liberty Island, in New York Harbor, it is a torch-bearing female figure, representing the Roman Goddess of freedom, Libertas. She carries a tablet on which July 4, 1776, the date of American independence, is inscribed. A broken chain lies over her feet. The statue is made of copper sheets covering a steel framework, and measures 151 feet without the pedestal and 305 feet including it. The statue was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and was gifted to the people of America from the people of France. Its completion took a long time, due to a shortage of funds. After finishing, the pieces of the statue were placed on the site, where it was assembled by first erecting the internal steel framework, then covering the exterior by the placement of the copper pieces, one by one. The statue was opened to the public in a ceremony in the presence of President Grover Cleveland, on October 28, 1886.

2. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most famous sculptures in the United States. It is sculpted into the granite rocks of Mount Rushmore, near Keystone, South Dakota. Doane Robinson, a South Dakota historian had conceived the idea of sculpting the figures of great men in the Black Hills region of South Dakota to promote tourism. Originally, Needles was considered for the site of sculpture but it was rejected on account of the poor quality of granite and the opposition of environmentalists and Native Americans. It was sculpted by the Danish American sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum. The sculpture is sixty feet high and features the faces of four United States Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The sculpture is 1,745 meters above sea level and covers about 5.17 square meters of the mountain’s surface.

3. Abraham Lincoln

 Abraham Lincoln statue
Abraham Lincoln statue

Located in the Lincoln Memorial, National Mall, Washington D.C., a massive sculpture of Abraham Lincoln was developed by Daniel Chester French. The sculpture weighs 170 tons and is made of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble. The figure is 19 feet high, but including the 11 feet high pedestal, the sculpture rises 30 feet from the floor. The figure is shown looking ahead, slightly downwards and is seated in the chair with his hands resting on the arms, giving an authoritative look. His coat is unbuttoned and a large American Flag is wrapped around the back and sides. French started with a clay model, and kept on making small changes, until he was satisfied. It was only then that this sculpture of historical importance was realized.

4. King of Kings

King of Kings Statue
King of Kings Statue

King of Kings is a statue of Jesus, located at the Solid Rock Church, near Monroe, Ohio. It was erected on an island, with colored spotlights and fountains on its sides. Jesus was shown with his arms and head raised toward the sky. It is a 62-feet high sculpture and weighs about 7,000 kgs. It was built on a metal framework, and the figure was sculpted by James Lynch. The statue was damaged when lightning, followed by fire, struck it on June 15, 2010. The statue was badly damaged by the lightning because it was made of flammable Styrofoam, thinly covered by fiberglass

5. The Chicago Picasso

The Chicago Picasso
The Chicago Picasso

The Chicago Picasso is an abstract cubist sculpture by Pablo Picasso. It is located in Daley Plaza, Chicago, Illinois. It is an important landmark of Chicago. The sculpture is 50 feet high and weighs 147 tons. It was the first sculpture of its kind, and was first displayed to the public on August 15, 1967. Three charitable foundations, The Woods Charitable Fund, The Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation, and the Field Foundation of Illinois paid most of the construction cost. Picasso refused to accept $100,000 offered to him, saying the sculpture was a gift from him.

6. Christ of the Ozarks

Christ of the Ozarks
Christ of the Ozarks

Christ of the Ozarks is a statue of Christ showing his outstretched hands, suggestive of crucifixion, but the cross is not shown. The sculpture is 65.5 feet high. It was conceived as the focal point of an amphitheater and theme park conceived by Gerald L.K.Smith. After Smith’s retirement, he bought an old mansion and purposely renovated it with the aim of developing a sacred theme park. He also developed a 4,100-seat amphitheater. The statue was featured in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown. It has also been featured in the movie Pass the Ammo, released in 1988.

7. The Vulcan Statue

 The Vulcan Statue
The Vulcan Statue

Named after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, the Vulcan statue is located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is the largest cast iron sculpture in the world. It reflects the roots of iron industry in the area. Giuseppe Moretti, the Italian-born sculptor, began the work in 1903 and first modeled it in clay, which was divided into 29 parts. These parts were cast in iron and assembled at the site. The Vulcan statue alone weighs 45,359 kgs, while it weighs 54,431 kgs when Vulcan’s anvil, hammer, block and spear are included. The 17 meters tall Vulcan is the seventh tallest free-standing statue in the United States.

8. Flamingo

Flamingo
Flamingo

Flamingo is a famous sculpture located in Federal Plaza, opposite the Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois. It is a 53 feet tall stabile, weighing 50 tons and stands out due to its vermillion color, which is known Calder Red, after the sculptor, Alexander Calder. It is an abstract form and is distinguished from the mobile form by its remaining unaffected by air currents, therefore known as stabile. Flamingo is also an example of Constructivism, which refers to sculptures made from assembling small parts. Alexander Calder displayed the model of Flamingo on April 23, 1973 at the Art Institute of Chicago and the actual sculpture was open to public on October 25, 1974.

9. The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is an obelisk, sculpted to commemorate the first president of the United States, George Washington. An obelisk is a narrow, four-sided pillar with the top end tapering in pyramidal shape. An ancient Egyptian obelisk, recovered from Luxor, is at display in Place de la Concorde in Paris. It is a monolithic column made exclusively of red granite. Unlike Luxor’s obelisk, the Washington Monument is not monolithic, but is made of three types of stones, including marble, granite, and blue gneiss. Standing 555 feet and 5 inches tall, it is the highest true obelisk in the world.

10. The Tyler Davidson Fountain

The Tyler Davidson Fountain
The Tyler Davidson Fountain

The Tyler Davidson Fountain, also known as The Genius of the Water is a sculpture, comprised of a statue and a fountain. It is located Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a symbol of the city. It was opened to public in 1871. It is 43 feet tall and weighs 22 tons. It is cast in bronze and fixed on green granite. The four corners of the square pedestal represent steam, hydropower, navigation, and fisheries. The fountain contains animal figures and the figures of four nude boys. One of them is riding a dolphin, another is playing with a duck, a third is struggling with a snake, and a fourth is on the back of a turtle.

Conclusion

In addition to the theme of independence, American sculpture is reflective of American supremacy in the world. Sculptures indicating nuclear advancements are almost exclusive to the USA. Abstract art is also reflected in many great works. Like the Egyptians, Americans believe in huge sculptures and at times whole cliffs of big hills have been sculpted into excellent works of historical importance. Perspective occupies a great importance in the American sculptures to ensure maximum visibility.

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