Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions, and one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since modernism, shifts in sculptural process led to an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded, or cast.
Sculpture in stone survives far better than works of art in perishable materials, and often represents the majority of the surviving works (other than pottery) from ancient cultures, though conversely traditions of sculpture in wood may have vanished almost entirely. However, most ancient sculpture was brightly painted, and this has been lost.
Sculpture has been central in religious devotion in many cultures, and until recent centuries large sculptures, too expensive for private individuals to create, were usually an expression of religion or politics. Those cultures whose sculptures have survived in quantities include the cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean, India and China, as well as many in South America and Africa.
The Western tradition of sculpture began in Ancient Greece, and Greece is widely seen as producing great masterpieces in the classical period. During the Middle Ages, Gothic sculpture represented the agonies and passions of the Christian faith. The revival of classical models in the Renaissance produced famous sculptures such as Michelangelo's David. Modernist sculpture moved away from traditional processes and the emphasis on the depiction of the human body, with the making of constructed sculpture, and the presentation of found objects as finished art works.
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Famous quotes containing the word sculpture:
“I look on Sculpture as history. I do not think the Apollo and the Jove impossible in flesh and blood. Every trait the artist recorded in stone, he had seen in life, and better than his copy.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“You should go to picture-galleries and museums of sculpture to be acted upon, and not to express or try to form your own perfectly futile opinion. It makes no difference to you or the world what you may think of any work of art. That is not the question; the point is how it affects you. The picture is the judge of your capacity, not you of its excellence; the world has long ago passed its judgment upon it, and now it is for the work to estimate you.”
—Anna C. Brackett (18361911)
“Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.”
—Elie Wiesel (b. 1928)