Art can take on many forms: paint applied to canvas, photography, prose, dance, sculptures and much more. Even jewellery, whether crafted from gold, silver or other metals is a form of art. It’s fair to admit, metalwork is likely not the usual thing you’d think of where forms of art are concerned, however, this area of expertise is actually ripe with stunning examples of ingenuity and craft.
From artisan coins to commemorative statues; creative sculptures to contemporary architecture, ironmongers, silversmiths and the like have been creating artistic metal works for centuries, with art and jewellery even being the primary uses of metals in the Americas before the influence of European industrial concepts.
Sculptures and Statues
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
Originally built for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, this colossal monument to communist ideology stands at an impressive 78 feet high, and is now situated in the Russian Exhibition Centre in Moscow. Its creator, Vera Mukhina, designed the couple featured in the stainless steel sculpture to form the shape of the emblematic hammer and sickle symbol of communism, and the work has since been restored for Expo 2010 – the modern day equivalent of the World’s Fair.
The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, USA, recently highlighted an opinion expressed by many: that coins are much more than a method of payment; they are miniature works of art, detailing cultural and political history for all civilisations that used them. Greek coins, as an example, date back hundreds of years, with famous ones dated to 465 AD.
As well as being works of art in their own right, coins have often been regularly used as an artistic building block, or as an inspiration for unique pieces. For example, take a look at Johnny Swing’s Half Dollar / Butterfly Chair. Made from 1,500 fifty-cent pieces and 7,000 welds, the chair is an example of Swing’s coin furniture range that also features sofas and benches.
Weird and Wonderful
Many cities worldwide have taken it upon themselves to make artistic features out of their street furniture and industrial elements, whether sanctioned by local government or carried out by rogue artists. For instance, across 95% of Japan’s 1,780 municipalities, one can find detailed and attractive designs on all manhole covers throughout the town or city, unique to that location.