Wood carving - a craft

What is wood carving? A visit to some of the world's most renowned art galleries and auctions shows that wood carvings are still popular. Works of art made of wood have always captured the imagination of designers and artists because they are easily accessible and relatively easy to carve. The development of woodcarving parallels the development of art as a whole, from use for religious and devotional sculpture to metamorphosis into abstract forms.

History of Woodcarving

In addition to being finely worked and stained, the wooden sculptures were prized for their organic beauty and texture. Not only did they take on the forms intended by the artists, but they were also prized for their aesthetics.

In addition to their basic characteristics, however, the works of art made of wood also carried other cultural and social connotations that influenced their use.

The wood sculpture in Western art has evolved from a material that was commonly used and considered less culturally valuable than, say, marble, to a material celebrated and widely used by contemporary artists. Today we will explore the history of carving and look at examples of wood sculpture and wood carving techniques used by artists over the years.

Woodcarving and Sculpture in the Middle Ages

Although the practice of creating works of art out of wood dates back to prehistoric times, when wooden sculpture played a specific ceremonial role - the earliest example of wood carving is the Shigir idol , carved around 11,000 years ago - let's start with the Middle Ages.

Christianity recognized very early on that wood could be used for religious purposes and carved crosses and other sacred images and saints in wood.

The oldest wooden carving The Great Shigir Idol, kept in the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Tradition (Ekaterinburg), is the oldest known wooden sculpture in the world. A 1997 radioactive dating gave an age of about 11,600 years;

Woodcarving Bosnic first known carving

Many of the wooden sculptural treasures have disappeared over the years because they are perishable and vulnerable to water, insects and fungi. The Middle Ages also limited the number of visual stories artists were allowed to tell. These were usually decided at religious conferences, where dogma was strictly followed and instructions about what was and what was not permissible determined most artistic endeavors of the era. The Holy Blood Altar, the Gero Crucifix and the Pietà in Red are just a few of the many outstanding examples of woodcarving.

Germany was one of the most prolific regions for the art of woodcarving, producing numerous masterpieces. In addition to figures, ceiling beams, altarpieces, portrait busts and reliefs were also made of wood.

Renaissance woodcarving and more

The prevailing tone and understanding of the place of man in the larger context changed with the Renaissance, so to speak, from the periphery to the centre. The idea of ​​the uomo universale, a universal human being at the center of the cosmos, was developed by Renaissance humanism and one of its most important thinkers, Leon Battista Alberti.

The concept was immediately embraced by artists, and they began to shift their attention from religious themes to negative depictions of human experience.

The popularity of secular portraits and sculpture increased dramatically, but because of the desire to preserve their image for posterity, wood was not always the first choice of craftsmen. Nonetheless, sculpture continued to develop during this period, with Donatello's beautifully carved Saint John the Baptist (1457) in Venice and the Penitent Magdalene (1453-1455) now preserved in Florence being two notable examples.

Works of art in wood classicism

After the revival of interest in ancient art by the books of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, classicism came with an insatiable appetite for marble. The tendency to copy ancient Greco-Roman sculpture led to the use of wood only for decoration and framing, with the Grinling-Gibbons school of woodcarving in England being one of the most important.

Mantels, door panels and doorways were carved from wood, and the manufacture of wooden putti increased in the 18th century. Sculpture was introduced into the curriculum of art schools in various European countries at the turn of the 19th century.

Modern wood carving sculpture

After the liberalization of artistic genres, which led to a diversification of materials, modern craftsmen returned to woodcarving. Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi, Paul Gauguin, Xawery Dunikowski, Barbara Hepworth and Louise Nevelson are among the many artists known for their skill in wood carving.

Moore is known for his polished wood sculptures such as the Reclining Figure of 1936, Gauguin followed the traditional Tahitian woodcarving technique in making reliefs out of wood, while Nevelson made assemblages out of found pieces of wood.

Cultural implications of woodcarving

Wood was the primary material for many creators from Oceania, Australia, Africa and America and was also used in Western civilizations. For example, wood is one of the most important forms of expression in Aboriginal art and there is a long tradition of woodworking in the Middle East.

Artists use this material for a variety of reasons, including decorative and religious or ceremonial, but in the colonial setting the material's use was misinterpreted as indicative of the folkloric and generally rudimentary cultural level of the people who used it.

While Europe gradually subordinated wood to the realm of decorative design, other nations interpreted woodworking through folklore and tradition. African masks, which later influenced Picasso and movements such as Fauvism and Expressionism, were seen as ceremonial objects with little or no aesthetic value in woodcarving.

Thanks to political and cultural changes in the second half of the 20th century and beyond, the negative cultural aspects of woodcraft are now history and woodcarving is valued and used just like any other creative activity. As artisans continue to carve wood into great works of art, interest in wood and its quality seems to be high.

Wood carving techniques

A special carving knife is used for carving and cutting the wood, a chisel with a curved, sharp end for indentations and curves, a chisel with a straight edge for lines, and various hammers for carving the wood.

In wood carving, the sculptor begins by selecting a piece of wood that is appropriate for the shape and dimensions of the work.

He then cuts the wood into an approximate shape with gouges of various diameters, which he refines with various tools such as veins. After completing the painstaking work, the sculptor smoothes the surfaces with rasps and various types of sandpaper. Finally, he colors the sculpture with linseed or walnut oil and covers it with resin, varnish or wax to refine and preserve it.

Famous artists and works of art of woodcarving

Throughout history, people from all over the world have used accessible materials such as stone and wood to convey their basic beliefs. As a result, century after century, art has flourished, shaped by subtle ideals and carrying on the traditions of our ancestors.

To share with you the beauty, knowledge and talent of the brilliant masters of woodcarving, we have compiled below a list of the most notable examples of woodcarving.

The Pietà, which first appeared as an independent devotional figure in the late 13th century, is one of the most moving forms of representation in Christian art. The Pietà in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn is one of the best known because it is very emotional. This wood carving shows the Virgin holding the dead Christ in her lap.

Pieta Maria with her son in her arms

The grief of the loss has deformed her body. One of the first sculptures of its kind, it is notable for its clear and powerful depiction of fear.

It is difficult not to feel something when looking at Röttgen's Pietà - perhaps dislike, horror or disgust. It's terrifying, but the longer you look at it, the more fascinating it becomes. This is part of the beauty and drama of Gothic art that was intended to elicit an emotional response from medieval audiences. In earlier medieval depictions of Christ, the divinity of Christ was emphasized. Christ is crucified in these woodcarving artworks, but he does not suffer.

These crucifixion images belong to a category called "Christus Triumphans". Christ stands erect and alert at the crucifixion, resisting human torment because his divinity transcends all human components.

Known wood art - wood carving

Also known as La Belle Allemande, this well-known sculpture may have been inspired by a Dürer print from around 1500. The saint's uniform and serene physical nudity, emphasized and concealed by her curls, and her graceful pose swaying in a subtle contrapposto, reveal a craving for carnal beauty that was now part of the spirit of the Renaissance.

The work was created by Gregor Erhart, a late Gothic sculptor. The supporting angels were eventually removed from the work.

The saint's calm elegance and kind face suggest the delicate style of the Swabian Sengothic tradition, while the sweeping hips - a nod to traditional contrapposto - and the symmetry and fullness of the nude body reflect the Renaissance quest for formal beauty.

Instead of the thin, unnatural body of the Gothic, he develops feminine curves, taut muscles and a great sensory awareness.

In 1499, the Rothenburg City Council commissioned the altar to present the monstrance, which carried the city's venerated Holy Blood relic, in a larger setting. Tilman Riemenschneider, a well-known Würzburg sculptor, was commissioned to sculpt the altar figures, while Erhard Harschner, a local craftsman, built the skeleton and structure. The altar was completed in 1595 and placed in the luminous Chapel of the Holy Blood in the western apse of St James's Church.

Standing 9.7 meters tall, it seemed to soar towards the sky like the church's windows and pillars, with a thin frame structure that contrasted with the sturdy altars of the time.

Visitors continue to flock to the Jakobskirche every day, because Rothenburg is the most popular stop on the Romantic Road and the altar is an aesthetic highlight. The Holy Blood relic remains in its place on the altar, although St. James' Church has been evangelical for over 500 years and most tourists come to see the wood carving artwork.

In the center of the picture Christ is depicted being raised from the crucifixion. The two villains have already been arrested. Two men stumble under one of them to the right, while the repentant thief is trapped in the ladder leaning against his cross. Two of Mary and John surround the swooning image of the Virgin. The tools of the passion lie scattered on the floor.

The image is identical to that of the famous painter and writer Giorgio Vasari, who claimed that Jacopo Sansovino made a wax figure of the work for Perugino in Rome.

This is probably correct, as copies of a Perugino painting based on the model in question still exist. This model also appears to have inspired an early painting by Andrea del Sarto in Venice. Sansovino was born and educated in Florence but also spent time in Rome before moving to Venice in 1527. He became a major sculptor and architect in the city and developed a large school of followers working mainly in bronze and marble.

The model stands in a wooden tabernacle from the early 16th century. The figure was owned by Giovanni Gaddi in Florence around 1550 and Ignazio Hugford bought it from Casa Gaddi in 1766. Huxford may be the one who repainted the now-faded landscape on the back wall.

In 1855 the model entered the collection of Ottavio Gigli and was one of the works acquired for the museum.

The Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary are surrounded by a host of little angels, many enthusiastically ringing bells or playing instruments. The sculptures are surrounded by a rosary with eight medallions depicting episodes from the lives of the Virgin and Jesus. Stoss designed a gold crown to hang over the frame but has since disappeared. To illuminate Stoss' sculpture, Tucher commissioned artisan Jakob Pulmann to construct and install an iron candelabra with a small figure of Mary.

The ensemble arose at the height of the German Reformation, when Lutheran radicals began to question the necessity and purpose of sacred art and introduced concepts such as iconoclasm.

Tucher and the town turned away from Catholicism in 1525 and converted to Lutheranism. In 1519 a green cloth was hung over the work except on holy days when it was permitted to be unveiled. The veil was long thought to have been enforced by the Iconoclasts, but when a document written by Tucher was discovered in the 20th century, it mentions a payment for the fabric, showing that the veil was part of the original design.

The 15th Century

By the late 1520s it was considered purely devotional, with no liturgical purpose; he honored Mary rather than Christ and focused on the Rosary, which had fallen out of favor with Lutherans. Upkeep was expensive, and it has been suggested that money spent on it would be better spent helping those in need.

The work was generally spared from demolition as it was considered the private property of the wealthy and powerful Tucher family. Religious art commissioned by the nobility was generally spared in post-Reformation Germany if included in a personal collection. Nevertheless, it was allowed to remain in a public space - albeit hidden - which shows that Nuremberg is proud of its history. Only the crown has been dismantled and torn off, while the middle part has been partially covered and deactivated.

The project was still in jeopardy and was described as "a disgrace to Nuremberg". To save money, a fundraiser was started to replace the metal hanger with hemp. However, this rope broke in 1817, and the "Greeting of the Angels" was not fully uncovered and opened to the public until the late 19th century.

This life size wooden collar is made in the style of Venetian needle lace. It was carved to show the carver's talent. Similar coats are found in architectural ornaments associated with gibbons. This sculpture was probably created to attract and showcase potential customers. The Krakatan was owned by Horace Walpole, a woodcarver who admired Gibbons' art. Gibbon's carvings were displayed in a drawing room at his family home in Norfolk.

Although this attribution is no longer accepted, Walpole believed that one of the ivory statues in his cabinet, depicting Judith with the head of Holofernes, was also made by Gibbons.

Development of carving in modern times

Gibbons' cabinet was on display in the Strawberry Hills Tribune Room along with Walpole's cabinet. It was part of Horace Walpole's inventory of unique little items. Walpole wore the jacket when he received some notable Spanish, French and Portuguese guests at his Strawberry Hill residence in Twickenham in 1769.

The enormous proportions and dramatic effect of Nevelson's wall sculptures complemented the artist's great personality. The black color appealed to the artist because it emanates "totality, calm, and grandeur." The spectral traces of the broken objects are slowly captured by the light, creating an illusory handwriting on the velvety black surface. The Cathedral of Heaven suggests, as Nevelson described, "the heavenly spheres, the realms between land and sea, which lie beyond our ordinary consciousness.

A major 20th-century artist, Louise Nevelson pioneered site-specific and installative art with her monochrome wooden sculptures composed of box-like structures and embedded objects.

Her first all-black sculptures revealed an emphasis on shadow and space, creating a visual vocabulary that would characterize most of her work from the mid-1950s onwards. Nevelson's work explores the mutual possibilities of sculpture and the environment by embedding the objectification of the outside world in a personal framework.

Wood has long been used to make sculptures, but it doesn't last as long as other base materials like stone and copper because it's susceptible to decay, pest infestation, and fire. Because of this, wood carving is an important hidden aspect in the art history of many nations. Wooden outdoor sculpture does not last long in most regions of the world, leaving the origins of totem pole traditions unclear. Wood is used for many of the most important sculptures of Japan and China, as well as most Oceanic, African, and other regional sculptures.

frequently asked Questions

What is wood carving?

Woodcarving is a type of woodworking in which a cutting tool is used with one hand, a chisel is used with two hands, a chisel is used with one hand, and a hammer is used with one hand to carve out a wooden figure or figure or sculptural ornament to create on a wooden object. The term can also refer to the end result, which can range from individual sculptures to handcrafted ledges that form a tracery.

What role did religion play in early carving?

Early in its history, Christianity recognized the use of wood for religious purposes, carving crosses and various sacred images and saints in wood. Because of their impermanence and their susceptibility to water, pests and fungi, many of the wood-carved sculptural beads have been lost over time. The number of visual stories artists could tell was also limited in the Middle Ages, as most artistic endeavors of the era were governed by religious conferences, where dogma was strictly followed, and instructions as to what was permitted and what was not permitted, determined most of the artistic endeavors of the era.

How does Bosnic.ART carry the art of wood carving into the present?

Bosnic.Art lives the history of wood carving by creating high-quality objects that stand the test of time, bring great joy and uphold the long tradition of the art of wood carving . The highest quality is our highest requirement, both for the trophy plates , the rifle butts and the wooden pictures.

quality and craftsmanship

since 1989

The Bosnic family has been producing high-quality handicrafts for the regional market for years. We have finally circumnavigated the many obstacles that allow us to sell the products worldwide today.

We look forward to this new experience and the reactions of our customers.