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Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is 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, there has been 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 moulded 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 Central and 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.

Sculpture Media

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Sculpture "Eagle; Justice Above All Else" at Jacob K. Javitz Federal Building, New York, New York

Sculpture "Eagle; Justice Above All Else" at Jacob K. Javitz Federal B...

Artist: Theodore Roszak, 1970. Bronze. Photographed as part of an assignment for the General Services Administration. Title information, date, and subject note provided by the photographer. Credit line: Photogr... More

Young women at the municipal casino: Lido Beach, Florida

Young women at the municipal casino: Lido Beach, Florida

Local call number: JJS0370..Title: Young women at the municipal casino: Lido Beach, Florida..Date: ca. 1945..Physical descrip: 1 transparency - col. - 5 x 4 in...Series Title: Joseph Janney Steinmetz Collection... More

[Statue of Liberty at Dusk]

[Statue of Liberty at Dusk]

Title: [Statue of Liberty at Dusk]..Creator: Robert Yarnall Richie, 1908-1984..Date: November 9, 1965..Place: New York Harbor, Manhattan, New York..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie photograph collection..Descript... More

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), 1st chamber E. wall; 8th register (middle), MMA excavations, 1922–23 Late Period, Saite

Relief fragment of an Asiatic prisoner

Relief fragment of an Asiatic prisoner

From Egypt; Said to be from Eastern Delta, Hurbeit (Pharbaethos) New Kingdom, Ramesside

Relief Fragment , "hr" hieroglyph, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Relief Fragment , "hr" hieroglyph, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

Probably from Upper Egypt, Thebes; From Egypt New Kingdom

Relief with attendant holding an offering table

Relief with attendant holding an offering table

From Egypt; Probably originally from Amarna (Akhetaten); Probably from Middle Egypt, Hermopolis (Ashmunein; Khemenu) New Kingdom, Amarna Period

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Shabti dolls were funerary figures in ancient Egypt that accompanied the deceased to the after-life. Shabti's name is derived from the Egyptian swb for stick but also corresponds to the word for `answer' (wsb) ... More

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

See 25.3.19. From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb MMA 60, Chamber B, Burial of Henettawy C (4), MMA excavations, 1923–24 Third Intermediate Period

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Shabti dolls were funerary figures in ancient Egypt that accompanied the deceased to the after-life. Shabti's name is derived from the Egyptian swb for stick but also corresponds to the word for `answer' (wsb) ... More

Bead with figure of Harpokrates

Bead with figure of Harpokrates

Gold glass beads were a Hellenistic development. They were created by combining drawn tubes of colorless glass with gold foil. The earliest examples were finished bead by bead. These are all modern stringings; ... More

Etruscan Carnelian scarab, Italy
Fragment of relief, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Fragment of relief, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Pyramid Temple of Amenemhat I, MMA excavations, 1912–13 Middle Kingdom

Figurine of Seth, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Figurine of Seth, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Cemetery, MMA excavations, 1906–07 Middle Kingdom

Figurine Fragment of a Man's Head

Figurine Fragment of a Man's Head

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, MMA excavations Ptolemaic Period

Finial (?), bronze, Iran, iron age ii

Finial (?), bronze, Iran, iron age ii

Iran, Hasanlu Iron Age II

Canaanite Scarab, Egypt, Second Intermediate Period (1782 - 1570 BCE)

Canaanite Scarab, Egypt, Second Intermediate Period (1782 - 1570 BCE)

From Egypt; Possibly from Eastern Delta Second Intermediate Period

Bronze statuette of a goddess

Bronze statuette of a goddess

The Roman goddess Juno is likely represented. Imperial

Bead with figure of Harpokrates

Bead with figure of Harpokrates

Gold glass beads were a Hellenistic development. They were created by combining drawn tubes of colorless glass with gold foil. The earliest examples were finished bead by bead. These are all modern stringings; ... More

Roman Carnelian ring stone

Roman Carnelian ring stone

Head of the emperor Nero wearing a laurel wreath. Imperial

Corbeau en forme de marmouset de la rue Réaumur

Corbeau en forme de marmouset de la rue Réaumur

Corbeau à tête humaine, en forme de marmouset Numéro d'inventaire - A l'encre noire, sur vernis, en bas sur le côté : " AP181". Bloc cubique d'où émerge un personnage grimaçant portant un bonnet. Les bras repli... More

Sunk relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Sunk relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), Lunette, 2nd chamber, MMA excavations, 1922–23 Late Period, Saite

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mexico, Mesoamerica, Guerrero, Balsas River region

Statuette of Osiris, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)

Statuette of Osiris, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)

From Egypt, Western Desert; Kharga Oasis Late Period–Ptolemaic Period

Statuette of a swan, fragment

Statuette of a swan, fragment

Accession Number: X.21.91

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mexico, Mesoamerica, Guerrero, Balsas River region

Temple Model, 8th century

Temple Model, 8th century

Mexico, Mesoamerica, Guerrero, Balsas River region

Temple Model, 8th century

Temple Model, 8th century

Mexico, Mesoamerica, Guerrero, Balsas River region

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt New Kingdom, Ramesside

Seated female figurine holding a baby

Seated female figurine holding a baby

The figurine was made from a very worn mold; the infant's face is handmade. It is solid except for the concave base. Cypro-Archaic II

Scarab Inscribed for Thutmose I

Scarab Inscribed for Thutmose I

From Egypt New Kingdom

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Scarab, Egypt, Early New Kingdom 1550 - 1070 BCE

Scarab, Egypt, Early New Kingdom 1550 - 1070 BCE

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Tomb CC 43, Burial 12, Carnarvon excavations Second Intermediate Period–Early New Kingdom

Scarab Inscribed with the Throne Name of Thutmose III

Scarab Inscribed with the Throne Name of Thutmose III

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Foundation Deposit 7 (G), MMA excavations, 1926–27 New Kingdom

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mexico, Mesoamerica, Guerrero, Balsas River region

Shabti Box of Nany, Upper Egypt

Shabti Box of Nany, Upper Egypt

Shabti dolls were funerary figures in ancient Egypt that accompanied the deceased to the after-life. Shabti's name is derived from the Egyptian swb for stick but also corresponds to the word for `answer' (wsb) ... More

Shabti of Siptah, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Shabti of Siptah, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Siptah (KV 47), Davis excavations, 1912 New Kingdom, Ramesside

Shabti of Wahneferhotep, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Shabti of Wahneferhotep, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Pyramid Temple of Senwosret I, Causeway, Northern lane, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

Small marble head of a youth

Small marble head of a youth

Copy of a Greek work of the 3rd century B.C. Imperial

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