“After the subject is determined, the next consideration is the design, which is a simple arrangement that may be comprehended at a glance. Then comes the modelling, which must have no unnecessary details that would complicate the design and obscure the idea - no capricious touches to divert the beholder's attention from the sculpture's meaning. The design and modelling being kept simple, the meaning is clear.


In looking through an illustrated history of sculpture, one reaches the conclusion that there is no new way of designing and modelling, for there is ample evidence that every arrangement has been done as well as every manner.


There are two reasons why this is so: the human figure with which all sculptors have been mainly engrossed, has certain bounds which cannot be disregarded without resulting in the production of a monstrosity; the other is that the carving of stone and the casting of metal are the same today as they were in the earliest times, and hold the sculptor to certain principles that are handed down as traditions, from which he could not escape if he would.


If newness is the desire, it must be achieved in the idea that the sculpture presents. Almost the same modelling can be used to make a frieze of corn, wheat, or any native plant as in making the acanthus. The same rendering that produces an Athena may be used to make a personification of a modern city. By bringing the native subject forward, interest and vitality will be added to modern sculpture, and the citizen will feel a relationship to it.


It is not meant that the acanthus will not always be considered a beautiful ornament, nor that so long as civilization lasts, traditional symbolism will not be venerated and used. A greater respect for it would surely be indicated, however, by its being used more sparingly and appropriately.

Also it is not meant that a sculptor cannot be a creator. Although no new ways of designing and modelling are available, the personal characteristics that stamp each sculptor's work, when applied to an original theme and architectural problem, make it a creation. What will be done when the sculptors have full play with the tremendous and dramatic themes that are to be recorded of our age and scene can only be imagined. The opportunity for this expression will no doubt bring forth works equal to those of the great monuments of the past.”



Lee Lawrie, from his  1936 folio, Sculpture, pictured here.


More of Lawrie’s Writings    

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