Phenomenal Nontraditional Sculptures And The Artists Who Make Them

Published September 8, 2014
Updated February 5, 2018
Nontraditional Sculptures

It looks like porcelain… but it isn’t. Source: Oddity Central

Artists are those daring individuals who try to make a living out of pushing boundaries and challenging—and hopefully changing—our tastes. In the artist’s endless process of borrowing, blending and creating, art and its respective mediums always evolve, adapting to the times and interests of their creators and viewers alike.

Nowhere is this more evident than in sculpting. While materials such as marble remain favorites among sculpting traditionalists, many others use bizarre and innovative materials and have crafted true masterpieces with them.


Nontraditional Sculptures Long Head

All of Li Hongb’s flexible sculptures are actually made from paper. Source: Blogspot

At first glance, Li Hongbo’s artwork appears to be made out of traditional materials such as marble or porcelain. However, when the artist gets a hold of his solid structure, he begins to stretch the piece in uncanny and bizarre ways. It leaves the brain confused over what exactly it is seeing. One of sculpture’s defining features is that it, like a rock, remains superficially unchanged over time, right?

Nontraditional Sculptures Paper Head

Thousands of paper layers go into each sculpture Source: Arrested Motion

Not so for Hongbo. It takes a while to realize that each sculpture is actually made out of paper – thousands and thousands of layers of paper modeled to look like a bust or a vase. Hongbo used his passion for books and his past life as a book editor as inspiration for finding a dynamic and playful purpose for this very old—and occasionally considered lifeless—medium.

Nontraditional Sculptures Paper Vase

The illusion works on more than just busts Source: Found Wonders

Nontraditional Sculptures: LEGOs

Nontraditional Sculptures Blue Lego

Nathan Sawaya next to one of his most famous creations Source: Singapore Travelholic

In spite of its juvenile associations, LEGO is arguably one of the most inspirational materials an artist could use. Most of us have played with LEGOs at one point or another and, whether we realize it or not, we are using our imagination to create something new and interesting each time.

Nontraditional Sculptures Yellow Lego

Simply titled “Yellow”, this is probably Nathan’s best known artwork Source: New York Daily News

Some people take this concept one step further. The most notable of the bunch is Nathan Sawaya, a New York-based sculptor who specializes in LEGO bricks. To make the sculpture as realistic as possible, Sawaya goes to great lengths and uses hundreds of thousands of LEGO pieces in each sculpture.

Nontraditional Sculptures Lego T Rex

Nathan Sawaya’s T.Rex is one of his largest sculptures Source: Blogspot

Among his most impressive achievements is a 20-foot long T.Rex skeleton. When he isn’t working on his original creations, Sawaya recreates some of the most famous artworks of all time using LEGO bricks.

Nontraditional Sculptures David Legos

Some of history’s most famous sculptures recreated using LEGO bricks Source: WordPress

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.