Artists are only limited by their chosen medium. Over the centuries, inspired artists have expanded the list of materials they use to explore their creativity. From simple pigments made of crushed berries and powdered minerals, artists began adding esoteric medium such as metals centuries ago. Thanks to their creativity, artists and sculptors have made wondrous creations from bronze, steel, and copper. Learn about these four amazing metallic artworks and get inspired.
The Gates of Hell
Auguste Rodin is best known for his thought-inspiring bronze sculpture titled “The Thinker.” However, throughout his celebrated career and tumultuous personal life, Rodin also created a grotesque and haunting piece known as “The Gates of Hell.” One of Rodin’s last works, the Gates of Hell stands at an imposing 20 feet. The sculpture is made from darkened bronze.
Working in an era before laser cutting or similar devices, Rodin manages to evoke the horror of eternal damnation from the way the bronze figures twist and contort around the massive portal. Rodin envisioned over 200 figures sprawling on the Gates, a monumental undertaking that began in 1890. It wasn’t completed until 1917, long after the sculptor had already passed away.
The Central Intelligence Agency is known for skullduggery and espionage, and it’s only fitting that an enigmatic sculpture takes center stage in their headquarters. Kryptos is an elaborate copper wall, curved like a sheet of paper. It stands prominently in the CIA’s central offices in Langley, Virginia. What’s truly amazing about Kryptos is that it’s incised with a coded message made up of over 860 letters.
Ever since it was installed in 1991, Kryptos has held the secret of its message close, baffling cryptographers for decades. Jim Sanborn, the creator of Kryptos, has offered three hints as to the hidden message over the years which have resulted in the cracking of three out of four of the sculpture’s passages. The final passage remains unsolved to this day.
Bird in Space
Constantin Brancusi was a world-renowned French artist who rose to prominence in the first half of the 20th century. The talented artist was hailed as the father of modern sculpture thanks to his unparalleled talent. For 20 years, spanning the 20s and the 40s, Brancusi was enraptured by the beauty of birds. Because of his artistic leaning, Brancusi preferred symbolic allusion to actual representation. This philosophy is captured by “Bird in Space.” A graceful bronze sculpture reminiscent of a feather, Bird in Space stands like a dancer in repose, evoking the subtle beauty and unmatched wonder of birds on the wing.
From 1964 to 1965, New York played host to the World’s Fair, an international gathering celebrating unity and innovation. To honor this occasion, artist Gillmore Clarke envisioned an enormous globe 120 feet in diameter called “The Unisphere.” Made of slender rings and plates of stainless steel, the sculpture is surrounded by three hoops representing the orbits of Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and the first orbital communication’s satellite. The structure still stands in Queens, majestic in its strength.
Although it’s often said that the artist is limited only by their medium, these sculptures prove that the only true limitation is creativity. Great artists have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible just like they’ve pushed what can be achieved with metal. Hopefully, these sculpture will give you the inspiration you need to exceed those limits yourself.