Sculpture can be freestanding, or self-supported, where the viewer can walk completely around the work to see it from all sides, or created in relief, where the primary form's surface is raised above the surrounding material, such as the image on a coin. Bas-relief refers to a shallow extension of the image from its surroundings, high relief is where the most prominent elements of the composition are undercut and rendered at more than half in the round against the background. Rich, animated bas-relief sculpture exists at the Banteay Srei temple near Angor Wat, Cambodia. Here humans and mythic figures combine in depictions from ancient Hindu stories.
Bas-relief sculpture at the temple Banteay Srei, Angor, Cambodia, 10th century. Sandstone
The Shaw Memorial combines freestanding, bas and high relief elements in one masterful sculpture. The work memorializes Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty fourth regiment, the first African-American infantry unit to fight for the north in the civil war.
Source: Chris Gildow, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
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