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Steel Fabrication in the Art World: A Tale of Two Inspirational Sculptures

worker sawing the iron

The arena of steel fabrication goes far beyond essential structures, bridges, and infrastructure, it also touches the realm of imagination. The art world has also benefited from the beautiful flexibility and endless possibilities offered by metal fabrication. Across the world, you can find breathtaking sculptures composed entirely out of stainless steel or other metals. 

So what are some of the most awe-inspiring examples of metal fabrication for aesthetic purposes? 

Let’s take a trip around the world. 

The World of Steel Sculptures and Artistic Works 

One of the advantages of steel as a metal in use for industrial purposes is its strength and flexibility as well as how easily it can be joined together or manipulated. We’ve discussed the many tough characteristics of steel in past posts. Today, we wander into a slightly different world of steel production and that is the world of steel sculptures. 

Many of us have seen these fantastic sculptures as part of city art, well-known monuments, and centerpieces in museums, etc. 

Artists, just like those working with metal in manufacturing, are attracted to steel because it is easy to join together. This makes it a great material for creating unconventional shapes. Many sculptures must be somewhat proficient in the art of welding in order to properly shape their works of art. Once the steel is welded together, the artist can sand down or grind down the juncture and make it seem like one seamless piece of metal. 

In addition to its versatility, artists also use steel because it is durable and strong. If a piece of artwork will be sitting out in harsh weather for decades, the artist does not want any piece of the sculpture to fade, rust, or lose its integrity in any way. 

A Call for Non-Violence — A Tribute to John Lennon 

One famous piece of metal artwork is called the Knotted Gun by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward. The piece is a finely crafted oversized metal revolver  (Colt Python .357 Magnum Revolver— the weapon used by Mark David Chapman to murder John Lennon) with the end of its barrel knotted and twisted in a fantastic knot with the muzzle pointing upwards. The symbolism is straightforward, as the gun’s barrel is deemed powerless, it suggests a cry for non-violence. 

The sculpture was initially created as a tribute to the late Beatles musician and music legend, John Lennon, who was assassinated in 1980 with a shot to the back. The artist, Reutersward, was a friend of Lennon’s and a prominent Swedish artist of the time.  First, the metal gun was placed outside of Strawberry Fields in New York, a place where John Lennon fans pay tribute to the artist to this day. The sculpture was later placed at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City. Replicas of the structure—as it has reached symbolic power— have now been placed in more than 30 other sites across the world. 

Photograph of the original Knotted Gun steel sculpture 

The Kelpies — A Piece for Horse Lovers 

If you’re ever in doubt of just how much beauty can be created by a thousand stainless steel pieces and the right imagination, take a  trip to Falkirk in Scotland. Looking over the famous Forth & Clyde Canal, The Kelpies are an extraordinary testament to structural steel engineering. At the same time, the sculpture pays tribute to the horsepower that was central to the economic and cultural development of Scotland’s industries. 

The two-horse head sculptures convey two horses in motion, caught perfectly in mid-movement as if with a precise action photograph. They are portrayed with incredible realism and a touch of magic. The horseheads reach an impressive 30 meters high and weigh over 300 tons each. Each head is carefully constructed with individually crafted pieces of stainless steel.  

It is modern mythology in the making, as said by Glasgow sculptor and creator of the Kelpies, Andy Scott. Kelpie refers to a Scottish legend of water spirits that reside in the mysterious waters of Scotland, and the legend has it that these spirits can transform from horses into humans. 

Two stainless steel horse heads form the metal sculpture ‘The Kelpies”

The sculptures are a central attraction to a Scottish park named The Helix. Visitors can take a walk around these steel horse heads, teetering at the realm of imagination, mythology, and history. 

Steel Fabrication Inspires, Builds, & Structures the World 

At Steel Specialties, we love all things metal. And while we don’t’ specialize in artistic works, we recognize that the engineering behind the use of metal in such sculptures takes a lot from the practice and technical skills we use in the industrial setting as well. The above are just two examples of how crafty engineering made metal into an inspiring reality.

After all, using structural steel to create something that withstands the test of time and serves a functional purpose is what we’re all about. 

Metal is precious. It builds our cities, it maintains our bridges, and it fuels our imagination. 

Want to learn more about steel fabrication? Call Steel Specialties today. 


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