How To Collect Contemporary Sculptures

Like if this guide is helpful
How To Collect Contemporary Sculptures

The art of sculpture has been around and appreciated for thousands of years. From wooden totem poles to porcelain busts, there are now may imitation-style sculptures available that represent the bygone sculpture-carving eras. There are also more modern sculpting styles such as resin or glass sculptures that can be purchased on the likes of eBay for affordable prices. The variety in the sculpture market is enormous but this does not mean that buying a sculpture for collection needn't be as simple a process as possible. A lot of sculpture collectors base their collections on specific subject matters or on certain sculpture mediums. For example, one collector may only accumulate animal sculptures whereas another may only collect sculptures made from bronze.

Materials Used in Contemporary Sculpture

There is a differing amount of mediums used by sculptors in the creation of their pieces. Many of these require techniques that have been around for thousands of years. This is what adds value to a lot of contemporary sculpture prices. Here are some of the most commonly used materials in the sculpture world:


Bronze sculptures can be used as ornamental pieces inside of the home or for larger scale purposes such as outdoor statues. It is used for a variety of different subjects of sculpture. Animals, busts and figures are all commonly made with bronze. This is due to the way that the metal cools within the mould, allowing for delicate and precise details to be added.


Wood is not used as commonly in the world of sculptures as other materials. However, it is still popular amongst collectors and sculpture buyers. Wooden sculptures are at a disadvantage to the likes of metal sculptures as they are susceptible to a variety of environmental weaknesses. Wood worms, weather damage and on rare occasion, fire can all affect the state of wooden sculptures, especially when kept outside. Whilst not as maintainable as sculptures made from other materials, woodcarving is seen to be an extremely skilled process. This only enhances the value of many wooden sculptures. Wood is most commonly used in the production of mask sculptures and is used a lot in the carving of sculptures from Asia and Africa.


Jade sculptures, otherwise known as 'Chinese jade', are another popular form of sculpture, especially on eBay. It is widely appreciated as an art form because of its solid nature, as well as its resilience against damage. The craftsmanship and the colours that encompass jade sculptures intrigue many buyers.


Resin sculptures are made from an artificial material similar to fibreglass. Many buyers see resin sculptures as a more affordably priced alternative to many other materials used in sculpture. This is because resin can be altered during the painting process to look like other materials such as bronze, marble, stone and porcelain. Due to its availability and manipulative qualities, resin is used commonly in the mass production of sculptures. Bear in mind that although a sculpture may appear to have been carved from another material, it may be part of a set of resin sculptures all manufactured at the same time. This generally means that resin sculptures may be of less value than the likes of marble or wooden sculptures.

Stone and Marble

Stone sculptures have been around since the history of man. Much like wooden sculptures, due to its heritage and difficult nature, the sculpting of both stone and marble is regarded as an extremely valuable skill. Stone sculptures are commonly seen as part of crockery sets in gardens because of their resilient nature. Marble sculptures are seen very much as a luxury in the art world. It is extremely hard to carve yet has been used in sculpture since the classical Greek period. A lot of busts are made from marble and because of this they can be high in value.

Other Metals

Many other metals are used in the creation of sculptures. Steel is used for larger sculptures due to its malleability, particularly those sculptures that can be kept as outdoor ornaments. A lot of abstract sculptures that can be found are made of steel, especially those for home decor purposes.

Subjects of Contemporary Sculpture

Whilst one collector may only collect a certain medium of sculpture, others may only assemble a collection based around a certain subject. Below is a table to give insight into some of the most commonly collected subjects:

Subject of Sculpture


Animal Sculptures

Animal sculptures tend to come in a variety of different sizes. Smaller sizes are popular however as they can be placed around the house.

Animals such as cats, rabbits, farmyard animals, and even insects are all available for collection. These subjects of sculpture can be found in a range of mediums, popularly bronze and resin.

Abstract Sculptures

Sculptures under the bracket of abstract are those which are made in attempt to not necessarily represent anything else. Much like abstract paintings, they can merely be a set of shapes. There are also abstract sculptures available that serve a more functional purpose.

Clocks, wine racks and light fittings can all be purchased in the form of an abstract sculpture. The size range of this type of sculpture varies enormously. Metal is commonly used in the creation of abstract sculptures.

Figures/Nude Sculptures

Another popular sculpture subject is that of the human body. These tend to be replicas of the kind of sculpture that were made and extremely popular amongst ancient civilisations. There are a number of nude and erotic contemporary sculptures available from the likes of eBay at affordable prices.

Whilst some of the sculptures of this subject are not necessarily naked, they are made to be representations of the human body. They come in a range of sizes and materials.


Masks are a popular form of sculpture across the globe. They are made to represent the variety of different societies and civilisations that wore them. From the very popular Buddha mask sculptures to Venetian style masks, the range is extensive. Contemporary sculptures of this ilk tend to be made from wood but can also be found sculpted from bronze and other metals.


Busts are commonly found in the form of human heads. They can often be representations of the heads and faces of famous characters throughout history, including Kings, Queens, artists and other various important figures. Busts are also available in the form of animals.

Whilst they can be found in smaller sizes, they can also be purchased in larger dimensions ranging up to one metre in height. As far as their materials are concerned, bust sculptures range from being sculpted in bronze, marble and porcelain. The price for these sculptures ranges enormously.

Buying Contemporary Sculptures

Whilst this guide is comprehensive in its explanation of the different mediums and subjects of sculpture, there are a number of online resources that may also be of use. Sculpture collection blogs and forums all exist to discuss everything from the world of sculpture. Explore these sites to find expert advice on different sculptures, from a recommended medium for a subject or a trade secret on a certain material value. However, before buying online there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration. Here are some deliberations that may need to be thought about before settling for a purchase:


A lot of sculptures are sold second hand. If buying a used sculpture then be aware that it may not be in prime condition. Use the forums and blogs mentioned above to find out tips on ways to restore sculptures or for realistic prices that should be paid for one that is second hand.


When collecting contemporary sculptures, one needs to be aware of the size of the piece. This can apply to both a collectors who keep sculptures in storage space as well those who collect as a means of decoration.


Maintaining the quality of a sculpture may lead to its value being kept in the future. Read up on the best way to maintain certain sculptures, such as advice on polishes and varnishes. Weather conditions also affect different mediums in different ways if collecting outdoor sculptures.

Buying Contemporary Sculptures on eBay

eBay is home to a variety of sculpture mediums and subjects. Use the search facilities available for use, such as the filter tabs and keyword search bar, to narrow down a search to a specific medium, subject, or size of sculpture.

When buying from eBay, it is always best to read product descriptions thoroughly in order to gain an idea of both the product and the seller. If the seller appears knowledgeable and personable, it is more than likely that they have sold contemporary sculptures before. Check their transaction history to make sure that this is the case. It is always best to buy from sellers with a history of selling similar products to the one being purchased.

Even if the seller has sold products of a similar nature before, asking them questions to gauge an idea of the sculpture's condition and size is always a wise idea. If buying a second hand sculpture it may also be a good idea to ask for its selling or auction history. Most sellers will be able to provide this. Finally, check the shipping or collection conditions for the sculpture. Some larger contemporary sculptures may be available for collection only. One should be familiar with eBay's Terms and Conditions before using the site to make a transaction.


Contemporary sculptures come in a range of sizes, materials and subjects. Once these criteria have been met sensibly in the mind of the buyer, the collection of contemporary sculptures is a fun and interesting hobby. Whether sculptures are to be placed outdoors, used in the home as ornamental pieces or just as part of a wider collection, there are generally contemporary sculptures available to suit all tastes and purposes.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides