Bradford Graves

Bradford Graves'  Writings

        Home Memorial Sculpture Park Gallery Biography Contact Photos

Sculpture - A Definition

Bradford Graves

The making of sculpture may be taken as a desire for the

realization of wholeness. We don't want to be on the world, but in

it. We begin by putting our identity on materials with the hope

that we will become one with the world.

Watch a child handle any material. He will deform, mutilate, or

shape the material into a new form. He may take that material

and combine it with anoter material into a structure. Or he may

set that material aside from others and give it a personal value.

Even when a child is given a toy that already has meaning

invested in it by the adult world, the child often will give it

meaning in ways unthought of by adults.

The personal meaning given materials by a child is his way of neutralizing and protecting himself from

and indifferent environment. By turning materials into an object it becomes something known.

An adult takes up the materials of the earth and works them in order to set up a relationship. An animal

feels fear in responding to an unknown thing; it responds to the unknown by staying clear of it, and

avoids establishing a connection. But man, in experiencing fear, goes towards the source. He will name

it, invent a myth to explain its action, and he will apply this knowledge to his personal welfare. He

establishes a relationship which is a kind of wholeness between himself and the source of his fear.

We are not seeking here to understand the source of fear, but rather to attempt to understand the

response that is at the beginning of sculpture. Man goes towards a relationship, while an animal goes

towards isolation. Man's self-induced fear is the result of his unfulfilled relationship with life. He creates

in order to establish a relationship with the world around him.

We have the choice of being a human being or a brute being. To experience ourselves, thoughts, and

feelings as something separated from the rest, as a restricted prison, or we may free ourselves from

this prison by widening our circle of compassion in the realization that each of us is part of a whole,

while the individual me inherits the earth for this one split second.

Sculpture has its roots, by way of handicrafts, in manual labor. We

cultivated the earth by manual labor in order to survive. The manual

work was done in order to transform material into something useful.

The interest is placed on the results. With handicrafts, the art is in

the enhancement of an object suited for use. The working of matter

is developed to reveal its fullest potentials. Man makes matter more

significant. Sculpture is significant in man's conceptualizing with the

material remaining in the background.

We are still children handling materials, naming and giving a personal value in our relationships. The

child applies the universe to himself, and from there goes on to imitation and self-expression. There he

has stopped. Most of art has stopped there. The era of a pure art reflecting wholeness hasn't begun yet,

but we can make an attempt at a start.

The making of a three-dimensional symbol that relayed information by way of inert material has been

the accepted definition of sculpture. Through the evolution of sculpture it had become cluttered with the

over-laying of symbolic messages. The history of western sculpture has been the questioning and

dismantling of the accepted idea of what sculpture should be. The concept of

sculpture that has emerged is of a non-functioning object that has a life of its

own. A sculpture no longer needs to justify itself by subject matter with the forms

construed as representational or symbolic. There is a new found freedom to take

the creation of formings were natural because they were statements of peaceful

pursuit-and joined in the phenomenon of life.


A Legacy Carved in Stone



Sculpture - A Definition

by David Smith from "David Smith"


The Handling of Materials

To Construct a Sculpture

The Making of a Sculpture

The Mythology of Stone








Brad's Writings 

Selected Essays