The Art of Welding
Welding is an important process for the construction of various metal sculptures. Sculptural welding requires extensive knowledge and skill; it’s more than simply creating functional objects or joining two pieces of metal together. Sculptural welding may involve welding two different materials, different shapes and colors, or welding at odd angles.
Picture Credit: metalwelding.org
A famous metal work artist would be the legendary English sculptor, Henry Moore. Alexander Calder is said by some to have perfected the art of sculptural welding. David Smith, the American sculptor, is revered. Antoine Pevsner was highly regarded for innovative welding techniques. Contemporary English sculptor, Anthony Caro has also created metal works of art.
David Smith lived from 1906-1965. He was considered one of the greatest American sculptors of the 20th century. His work was rugged, yet carried his interpretations of mythology. Influenced by cubism, surrealism, constructivism and his younger days working in a car body shop – his work was still influential and distinctive.
One of the earliest welded sculptures was Worker and Kolkhoz Woman by Vera Mukhina. The Large Arch by Henry Moore is located on the library plaza in downtown Columbus Ohio. The Chicago Picasso is 50 feet high and has become a landmark of downtown Chicago (located on Civic Center Plaza).
Mobiles and Stabiles by Alexander Calder are internationally well known. You’ll find L'empennage (1953) at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Le Tamanoir (1963) is in Rotterdam, Netherlands. La Grande Vitesse (1969) found its home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Feuille d'arbre (1974) resides in Tel Aviv, Israel. Red Mobile (1956) is painted sheet metal and metal rods hanging in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Creating Welded Sculpture by Nathan Cabot Hale is a 208 page guide with 196 illustrations. The book is not necessarily geared toward beginning welders, but does cover basic tools and techniques. The projects; abstract shapes, modeling solid figures, and large-scale welding challenge artists to create their best work.
Schools and Classes
Many great metal sculptors gained welding experience in more formal settings, but many schools offer welding as an art form. The Art Institute of Chicago has a Welding Workshop. Ohio University has a sculpture program. You’ll also find art and welding classes at New York University, California Institute of Art, Austin Community college, Southwestern Oregon, and more.
Why Metal Art?
Metal art pays homage to the iron and steel industries and the dominant force they are. Metal art sculptures may be modern, contemporary, and suitable for indoor or outdoor use. They may bring new life to forgotten discards. Metal has a feel and character not replicated by any other medium.