Art Encyclopedia - Undercutting
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Undercutting is a technical device widely used in relief sculpture and in sculpture in-the-round. An undercut is a cut behind a form, releasing it from the background. It provides the sculptor with an opportunity to make his surfaces and lines look as though they continue round the back of the form. It also traps shadows between a form and the background. In some reliefs these shadows contribute to an effect of chiaroscuro. High reliefs may be very deeply undercut so that they have no apparent attachement to the wall and some portions of the sculpture may in fact be carved all round.