ART 208 Introduction to Sculpture

Project #2: Closed and Open Form

Definitions : One of the distinguishing concerns of 20th century sculpture was liberating three- dimensional form from being the closed, solid mass that was the pre-modern traditions of carved stone and modeled bronze. These new works focused on opening up the form and thereby freeing it from constraints of gravity and making it ëtransparentí so to reveal its internal structure. Closed and open form are, at best, relative terms which need to be defined by observing that various visual elements of a sculpture to see what sort of relationship is established between the sculpture and its ambient space.

Assignment: By visual analysis of other sculptures and by working with quick sketch models you should become familiar with how you can create an open or closed effect.

Make six models using wood and or cardboard. Three should strive toward an open form effect and three should strive for a closed form effect. Choose one of your six models and make 3 more focus study models that explore variations within that one idea. From these focus models construct a full scale sculpture using wood construction.


Closed Form

Open Form

Opacity: In these closed form examples the sculptures are solid volumes which are isolated from ambient space. Transparency: In these open form examples, the sculptures use lines and planes to replace solid volumes and enclosing surfaces.
Closed Form Examples: Open Form Examples:
Duchamp-Villon,"Head of Baudelaire", 1911 Naum Gabo,"Head #2", 1916

Henry Moore,"Upright Form", 1966

Naum Gabo,"Linear Construction # 4", 1959

In this closed form example the sculpture has contours that seem to enclose the form and act as a barrier. In this open form example, the contours seem to belong to both the positive and negative space (whose edge is it?)
Closed Form Example: P. Feeley,"Denobia" 1965 Open Form Example: A. Calder, Whale", 1937

This closed form example has shapes that remain contained unto themselves. This open form example has shapes that appear to reach out and cradle space.

Closed Form Example: Tony Smith, Untitled, 1969

Open Form Example: A. Calder,"Trois Ailes", 1963

In these closed form examples space appears filled up. In these open form examples parts donít fill the space, they divide, transverse and articulate it
Closed Form Examples: Open Form Examples:
Tony Caro,"Midnight Gap", 1976 Tony Caro,"Early One Morning", 1962
David Smith,"Raven IV, 1962 David Smith,"Tank Totem", 1956
Figure/Ground Relationship  
In these closed form example negative space is isolated from ambient space. In these open form example, negative space invades the work and a quality of lightness ensues.
Closed Form Examples: Open Form Examples:
A. Archipenko,"Modeling of Light", 1947 David Smith, Cubi XII", 1963

Martin Puryear,"Bower", 1980

Tony Caro,"Tempus", 1970

Visual Focus
In this closed form example the patterning of forms creates a specific order for our viewing. In these open form examples our eye keeps moving , there is no hierarchy of position, eye movement is more continuous, it circulates freely.
Closed Form Example: R. Smithson,"Plunge", 1966 Open Form Example: David Smith,"Aerial Construction", 1936
  and... Calder,"Spiny", 1942