Sculpture is a three-dimensional branch of visual arts. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptures have used carving (removing material) and modeling (adding material as clay) in stone, metal, ceramic, wood and other materials, but since Modernism has been almost entirely material freedom and process. A wide variety of materials can be processed, such as carving, welding or modeling, or by molding or casting.
Stone sculpture survives much better than artifacts in perishable materials and often represents the majority of artifacts (excluding ceramics) that survived from ancient cultures, but on the contrary, wood sculpture traditions may have been almost completely destroyed. However, most of the ancient statues were painted brilliantly, and this has disappeared.
Sculpture has been at the center of religious devotion in many cultures, and large sculptures that were too expensive for private people to create until the last centuries were often an expression of religion or politics. These cultures, whose sculptures continue to exist in large quantities, include the ancient Mediterranean, India and China, as well as cultures in Central and South America and Africa.
The western sculpture tradition started in ancient Greece, and Greece produces great masterpieces in the classical period. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Gothic sculpture represented the pains and passions of Christian faith. The revival of classical models in the Renaissance produced famous sculptures like Michelangelo’s David. Modernist sculpture has moved away from traditional processes and is depicted by the depiction of human sculpture, the construction of the built sculpture, and the presentation of found objects as finished works of art.