While early Egyptian and Greek sculpture was
stiff and monolithic, the classical Greek period
introduced the more naturalistic S-curve and contrapposto to the sculpted human form.
One of mankind's earliest artistic expressions was the carving of stone or wood into fertility symbols, religious figures, animals or other three-dimensional forms.
It was the Greeks who later brought sculpture to the level of fine art, and their classical period in both marble and bronze was much copied by Roman sculptors who honored their gods and leaders in vivid, natural likenesses.
In style, Medieval sculpture was almost exclusively devoted to the Christian faith to adorn he great cathedrals of the age, retelling Old Testament and New Testament stories of sin and redemption -- along with, ironically, the addition of mythic grotesques, gargoyles and chimeras.
Renaissance sculpture returned again to the classical ideals of the human form, as seen in such works as Michelangelo's David. Later Baroque sculpture to movement and dynamism to new heights with wildly tempestuous sculptures such as those found in the Belvedere Palace Gardens in Vienna.
More dramatic developments followed with the Pre-Raphaelites and Victorian era sculpture that glorified allegorical figures, Arthurian legends, and the male and female nude as decorative architectural elements.
The modern art movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries introduced new forms into sculpture with a conscious effort to move away from classical subjects. Widely divergent styles introduced during this period included abstract sculptural formsFuturism, objects constructed from various elements, themes borrowed from African tribal art, and even Duchamp's genre-bending Fountain (a urinal fixture).
The art form has since exploded further, and today modern sculptors are free to work in any medium they choose including fabric, wire, glass, concrete, plastic, or any other material that strikes their fancy including neon tubing.
Around the Web, find more top resources on the history of sculpture range from
Asia, Greece and India to Gothic France and Victorian
England. Many of these sites are illustrated with images that
take you on a virtual tour of the work of the masters spanning
continents and centuries.
More about the history of sculpture around the Web: