three sculptures

A Guide to Buying Sculpture


Every sculpture exists beyond its shell. Much more than a painting or a sketch, arguably 2D, sculptures are more physical, their presence more immediate.

“I think I understand something about space,” the Indian born British artist Anish Kapoor once said. “I think the job of a sculptor is spatial as much as it is to do with form.”

He hit the nail square bang on the middle of the head with this comment. Though he is known for his huge, ambitious, monumental, earth consuming works of art – Svayambh, Sky Mirror, Tememos and Cloud Gate – his remark resonates throughout the entire body of sculpture.

From the minutest works to towering Babel-esque goliaths, every sculpture, which is defined by its shape, exists beyond its shell. Much more than a painting or a sketch, arguably 2D, sculptures are much more physical, their presence more immediate.

Think of it this way. As you amble around a gallery, amidst paintings and sculptures, it is always the latter you are conscious of, save only for the fact you’re cautious about stumbling into it.

Location, location, location

The first consideration when acquiring a sculpture is, in light of the fragility of such an object, is where one places it in the home. Before even considering this, after purchasing a sculpture, store it away safely in a reputable warehouse.

After all, if it is going to form an important centre-piece in your home, there is no sense in rushing things, to casually plonk it arbitrarily in the living room where, heaven forbid; it is liable to be knocked over accidentally.

The dimension of the work will naturally dictate the exact home of the sculpture. As with anything, it comes down to personal taste, the aesthetics of the home, and ultimately the reason why you’ve brought the work into the home.

The same rules apply

When it comes to finding the perfect sculpture, the same rules apply as they would with a painting or a photographic work of art. Principally, as mentioned above, meditate on what is driving the desire to own a piece.

Is it an investment? Is it because of a lifelong love affair with the medium? Is it to be included as part of a wider collection? Your answer in this instance will enlighten you as to the course of action you take – i.e. whether there is a need to assess the market value of an Alberto Giacometti or does a colourful post-modernist sculpture of a mass market fit in with your interior design.


Know your art. Read books, visit galleries, interview curators and artists, check out the latest shows and fairs – especially ones relating specifically to sculptors – and attend auctions. The more information you assimilate, the more capable you will be at gauging this particular branch of art.

Important things to ruminate over are why is the work up for sale, what does its previous owners say about the sculpture, where has it come from, is the artist relevant at the moment, what is its provenance and has it undergone any conservation work. You can never know enough.

If you like it, you like it

The legendary French artist Auguste Rodin, considered the father of modern sculpture, said of his technique:  “I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.”

A rather brusque and humble explanation from the exceptional creative who gave the world The Age of Bronze, The Walking Man, The Burghers of Calais and The Kiss, is revealing nonetheless.

Sometimes there is no need to over think why one acquires a work of art, be it a sculpture or a painting. It is enough to be hooked on a feeling and to go with it. On occasion, impulse should inform your decisions.

Tastes can, and do change, or not. There are so many variables. And then, a lot of the impulse will be, whatever your may think, out of your control. It’s all in the subconscious. Let your heart think.


Photo: williamcho