Direct Carving By Cribb, Ruth
Developed in the 20th century, direct carving (taille directe in French) is a carving technique where the sculptor works with hammer and chisel that comes into direct contact with a block of stone or wood. Constantin Brancusi’s The Kiss (1907) is often cited as one of the earliest examples of direct carving. Though models were sometimes used, direct carving gave sculptors close and intimate contact with their materials. By using this direct method, sculptors rejected academic traditions where sculptors created clay models that were then scaled and transferred to marble by a workshop of technicians. Direct carving became a concept closely aligned with modernism as the 20th century progressed. In the United Kingdom (where the method gained significant traction due to the legacy of hand making of the Arts and Crafts movement), sculptures defined as modern were generally expected to utilize direct carving as their primary technique.
Direct carving allowed sculptors to reject the notion of stone as a representation of flesh; rather they professed themselves to be representing stone and remaining true to the material by self-consciously highlighting the act of manipulating stone. For most of those practicing direct carving, it became a way of knowing the material, usually a local one, and of working with that material to “reveal” the work of art within.