Sculpture is the art of making two or three dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster.

What is sculpture?


Three-dimensional refers to the three dimensions of space—length, breadth, and depth. It is a useful way of distinguishing between art such as painting, drawing, and prints, which are two-dimensional (flat), and sculpture, which is three-dimensional.

Sculptures viewed from all sides?

Relief sculpture is carved on one side only, and stand out from a background surface. Relief panels have been used since ancient times, often to decorate important buildings, such as temples and churches.

Making sculptures?

Techniques in making sculptures depend upon the materials used. When carving stone or wood, the sculptor chips away with a hammer and chisel. When sculpting clay, we may use their hands. Clay models may be cast in bronze to create a strong, permanent sculpture.

History of sculpture

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The history of sculpture was probably made to supply magical help to hunters. After the dawn of civilization, statues were used to represent gods. Some Ancient kings, possibly in the hope of making themselves immortal, had likenesses carved, and portrait sculpture was born. The Greeks made statues that depicted perfectly formed men and women. Early Christians decorated churches with demons and devils, reminders of the presence of evil for the many churchgoers who could neither read nor write.

Sculpture in Europe

Renaissance sculpture

Renaissance art is distinguished from medieval art primarily by physical realism and classical composition. Renaissance painting and architecture were founded by Masaccio and Brunelleschi, respectively. The founder of Renaissance sculpture was Ghiberti, whose masterpiece is the Gates of Paradise, a pair of bronze doors for the Florence Baptistry.

Renaissance sculpture proper is often taken to begin with the famous competition for the doors of the Florence Baptistry in 1403, from which the trial models submitted by the winner, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Filippo Brunelleschi survive. Ghiberti’s doors are still in place, but were undoubtedly eclipsed by his second pair for the other entrance, the so-called “Gates of Paradise”, which took him from 1425 to 1452, and are dazzlingly confident classicizing compositions with varied depths of relief allowing extensive backgrounds.

Michelangelo was an active sculptor from about 1500 to 1520, and his great masterpieces including his David, Pietà, Moses, and pieces for the Tomb of Pope Julius II and Medici Chapel could not be ignored by subsequent sculptors. His iconic David (1504) has a contrapposto pose, borrowed from classical sculpture. It differs from previous representations of the subject in that David is depicted before his battle with Goliath and not after the giant’s defeat. Instead of being shown victorious, as Donatello and Verocchio had done, David looks tense and battle ready.

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Gothic sculpture

What is gothic? Gothic is a term of medieval art with a strange history and even stranger connotations. The Gothic period is essentially defined by Gothic architecture, and does not entirely fit with the development of style in sculpture in either its start or finish. Gothic sculpture continued tasks of sculpture as defined by the Romanesque period, i.e. sculptural decoration, gates and tombs, but it created new genres, too, e.g. ecclesiastical statues, winged altarpieces and heraldic stones.

Sculpture from around the world

Sculpture in china

When talking about chinese sculptures, we will most likely think of the ancient Roman architectural sculptures. But in fact, chinese sculptures or asian sculptures were brought to Europe by Marco Polo by the 18th century. they not only possessed original ceramics, enamels, and furniture from the East or china but were adapting Asian designs and skills in their own products.

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Sculpture in India

Sculpture began in India during the Indus Valley civilization of 2500 to 1800 bce. The monumental story of stone sculpture in India begins in Maurya Dynasty, when sculptors first started to carve illustrative scenes from India’s three main religions: Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

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Sculpture in Indonesia

Indonesia consists of over 13,500 islands and is home to many different ethnic groups. Indonesia has a long history of bronze, stone and Iron Ages arts. The megalithic sculptures can be found in numerous archaeological sites in Java, Sumatera to Sulawesi.

The pre-Hindu-Budhist and pre-Islamic sculptures can be traced in the artworks of indigenous Indonesian tribes. The most notable sculptures are those of Asmat wooden sculpture of Papua, the Dayak wooden mask and sculpture, the ancestral wooden statue of Toraja, also the totem-like sculpture of Batak and Nias tribe.

The stone sculpture artform particularly flourished in 8th-to-10th-century Java and Bali, which demonstrate the influences of Hindu-Buddhist culture, both as stand-alone works of art and also incorporated into temples. Most notable sculpture of classical Hindu-Buddhist era of Indonesia are the hundreds of meters of relief and hundreds of stone buddhas at the temple of Borobudur in central Java.

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Sculpture in Egypt

Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, architecture and other arts produced by the civilization of ancient Egypt in the lower Nile Valley from about 3000 BC to 100 AD. These early sculptures are small figurines, mostly of women. Nobody knows why Egyptian artists made these sculptures.

Sculpture in Roman

Roman sculpture is complicated by its relation to Greek sculpture. The strengths of Roman sculpture are in portraiture, where they were less concerned with the ideal than the Greeks or Ancient Egyptians, and produced very characterful works, and in narrative relief scenes. Examples of Roman sculpture are abundantly preserved, in total contrast to Roman painting, which was very widely practiced but has almost all been lost.

Sculpture in Greek

Greek sculpture from 800 to 300 BCE took early inspiration from Egyptian and Near Eastern monumental art. Greek art of classical antiquity is believed to be a mixture of Egyptian, Syrian, Minoan (Crete), Mycenean and Persian cultures. During the Archaic and Classical periods, most important Greek sculpture was of a religious character, made for temples which were usually dedicated to a single divinity.

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Outdoor and indoor sculptures

The main difference between indoor and outdoor sculptures is usually their size. Space is one reason that many people who are collecting art obtain indoor items rather than outdoor. Many indoor sculptures are made sculpted from wood such as teak. The climatic changes that an outdoor sculpture is subjected to are far less for those indoors and many more examples of ancient sculptures exist from indoor examples.

The traditional forms of sculpture that represent people or animals have developed to encompass more abstract forms in recent times. There is often a debate regarding whether modern works of sculpture that have been created from non-traditional materials are actually sculptures at all.

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Types of sculpture

What is Wire sculpture? Wire sculpture refers to the creation of sculpture or jewelry (sometimes called wire wrap jewelry) out of wire. The use of metal wire in jewelry dates back to the 2nd Dynasty in Egypt and to the Bronze and Iron Ages in Europe.

Famous sculptures from around the world


David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, created between 1501 and 1504, by the Italian artist Michelangelo. It is a 5.17 meter marble statue of a standing male nude. The statue represents the Biblical hero David, a favored subject in the art of Florence.

The Lady Justice

The Lady Justice Sculpture is one of the greatest known sculptures in the world. This statue is not attributed to any one artist, but the fact that it adorns so many courthouses in the world has made it one of the more popular sculptures.


The Thinker. Originally named The Poet, the piece was part of a commission by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris to create a monumental portal to act as the door of the museum.


Statue of liberty. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886 as a gift to the United States from the people of France. It was given to celebrate the 100 years anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence.


The Little Mermaid, Denmark – A bronze statue depicting a mermaid, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

the kiss

The Kiss is an 1889 marble sculpture by the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).

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The Pieta depicts the Virgin Mary holding her only son, Jesus Christ, in her arms, Created by Michelangelo (1475-1564).

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Wood wall sculptures

This sculpture has a function for home or wall decoration.  We have many models for this item, ranging from abstract, modern or animal wall decor.

Relief sculpture

Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. What is actually performed when a relief is cut in from a flat surface of stone or wood (relief carving) is a lowering of the field, leaving the unsculpted parts seemingly raised. There are different degrees of relief depending on the degree of projection of the sculpted form from the field, for which the Italian appellations are still sometimes used. The full range includes high relief (alto-rilievo), where more than 50% of the depth is shown and there may be undercut areas, mid-relief (mezzo-rilievo), low-relief (basso-rilievo), and shallow-relief or rilievo schiacciato, where the plane is only very slightly lower than the sculpted elements. There is also sunk relief, which was mainly restricted to Ancient Egypt. However the distinction between high relief and low relief is the clearest and most important, and these two are generally the only terms used to discuss most work.

Contemporary sculpture

Contemporary sculpture or modern sculpture is sculpture, painting, and other creative works that are from the current time, or since World War II. It is generally considered to have begun with the work of Auguste Rodin, who is seen as the progenitor of modern sculpture. While Rodin did not set out to rebel against the past, he created a new way of building his works.

Abstract sculpture

It uses nature not as subject matter to be represented but as a source of formal ideas. It  uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Abstract sculpture is made by people who do not think or walk like we do. It is an art that was born out of human error, and yet judged by human creativity.

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Animal sculpture

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Large statue commonly used for outdoor decoration, and small statues are used for indoor decoration.

Material of sculpture

Wood sculpture – Choosing the best wood for carving can depend on many factors. Wood comes in many types, it is important to know each woods individual characteristics to know how to use them while wood carving. Each wood type has a different texture and color.

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Soft woods:

  • Basswood

For a hand carver the most popular wood to use is Basswood and for good reason. The wood is relatively soft, yet because it is close  best carving woods grained it is able to hold detail very well.

Hard Woods:

  • Teakwood

Teakwood is a very popular hard wood. It is difficult to carve with hand tools. You must use sharp tools and a mallet for better results. Teakwood is a good wood for the power carver.

Stone sculpture is the result of forming 3-dimensional visually interesting objects from stone. It is an ancient activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped by the controlled removal of stone. Owing to the permanence of the material, evidence can be found that even the earliest societies indulged in some form of stone work, though not all areas of the world have such abundance of good stone for carving as Egypt, Greece, India and most of Europe.

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Marble sculpture is the art of creating three-dimensional forms from marble. Sculpture is among the oldest of the arts. Even before painting cave walls, early humans fashioned shapes from stone. From these beginnings, artifacts have evolved to their current complexity.

Stainless steel sculpture

Stainless steel is particularly well suited for use in outdoor sculptures due to the material’s durability and its ability to withstand the corrosive forces of nature.

Clay sculptures

Clay is a special kind of earth which is made by the decomposition of rocks through the action of weathering. Sculpting in clay dates from the Paleolithic era of the Stone Age. Known (when fired) as terracotta sculpture, it is the most plastic of all sculpting methods, versatile, light, inexpensive and durable. Although clay mainly used for preliminary models, later cast in bronze or carved in stone, it has also been used to produce full-scale sculpture.

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Iron sculpture, iron is one of the most favorite materials for carving, it usuallys used for outdoor decoration.

Sand sculpture, sand is one of the most popular materials for carving, it is easy to create but it is also easy to destroy.

Ceramic sculpture is an art made from ceramic material (including clay. Ceramic art is one of the arts, particularly one of the visual arts, and of those, it is one of the plastic arts. While some ceramics are considered fine art, some are considered to be decorative, industrial or applied art objects. Ceramics may also be considered artifacts in archaeology.

Glass sculpture

Glass may be used for sculpture through a wide range of working techniques, though the use of it for large works is a recent development. It can be carved, with considerable difficulty; the Roman Lycurgus Cup is all but unique. Hot casting can be done by ladling molten glass into molds that have been created by pressing shapes into sand, carved graphite or detailed plaster/silica molds. Kiln casting glass involves heating chunks of glass in a kiln until they are liquid and flow into a waiting mold below it in the kiln. Glass can also be blown and/or hot sculpted with hand tools either as a solid mass or as part of a blown object.

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Paper sculpture is an artwork created by shaping or combining different types of papers that needs a great precision. Unlike origami, paper sculptures are made of several pieces of paper instead of one and for once, paper is the subject and everything else are tools.

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