100 Greatest Sculptures Ever
Top 100 Works of Plastic Art By the World's Best Sculptors.

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Greatest Sculptures Ever (c.35,000 BCE-Present)


David (c.1435-53)
By Donatello.

Contents

List of the Top 100 Works
Prehistoric
Ancient Greece
Celtic Sculpture
Chinese Sculpture
Dark Ages
Renaissance Era
Mannerist School
Baroque School
Rococo and Neoclassical Schools
Modern Era
Contemporary School
Greatest Ever Relief Sculpture
Altarpieces

List of the Top 100 Sculptures

This list of the world's greatest sculpture encompasses works by the greatest sculptors in the history of sculpture. It features masterpieces of the ancient Bronze Age civilizations of the Mediterranean, India and China, Classical Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Baroque eras, as well as the modern and contemporary periods. It incorporates miniature carvings, statuettes, numerous types of free standing statue, including equestrian statues, as well as contemporary forms, but it excludes reliefs, the greatest of which are listed separately. Our 100 Greatest Ever Works of Sculpture includes objects created or carved out of stone, iron, marble, steel, fiberglass, clay, bronze, gold, copper, plastic, all types of wood, fur, satin, foam rubber, and "found" objects. It includes abstract sculpture as well as representational and figurative sculpture. Inevitably, given the preponderance of antiquities and early masterworks, late 20th and early 21st century sculptures are less well represented. Also, aside from works of pre-history, we have been forced to focus exclusively on Western sculpture. Nevertheless, the list includes examples from most major movements in the history of art, and is an excellent starting point for further study.

The list was compiled and selected by our Editor, Neil Collins LLB MA, who also compiled our Greatest Ever Paintings: Top 300.

The Greatest Ever Prehistoric Sculptures

Here is a short selection of the most important examples of prehistoric sculpture, dating from the Aurignacian and Gravettian cultures of the Upper Paleolithic. All works are by anonymous Stone Age sculptors.

Lion Man of Hohlenstein Stadel (c.38,000 BCE)
This ivory carving is the oldest known anthropomorphic animal carving in the world.

Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,000 BCE)
Also called the Venus of Schelklingen. It is the oldest known carving of a human figure.

Ivory Carvings of Mammoth, Lion, Horse: Vogelherd Cave (Swabian Jura) (33,000 BCE)
Includes the oldest known animal carving (mammoth); an outstanding example of Prehistoric art.

Venus of Dolni Vestonice (c.26,000 - 24,000 BCE) Clay
World's oldest example of ceramic sculpture.

Venus of Willendorf (Austria) (25,000 BCE) Oolitic Limestone
Most famous of the Venus Figurines; the most graphic representation of an obese female.

Venus of Brassempouy (c.23,000 BCE)
Its unusual facial detail makes this carving of a female head, the first known example of prehistoric portrait art.

Venus of Kostenky (c.22,000 BCE) Mammoth Bone
Earliest known example of prehistoric Russian sculpture.

Ain Sakhri Lovers (c.9000 BCE)
Carved out of calcite, it was discovered in one of the Ain Sakhri caves near Bethlehem. Listed in the BBC TV series History of the World in 100 Objects. Compare it with The Kiss by Constantin Brancusi.

Shigir Idol (c.7500 BCE)
The oldest known wood carving. It now resides in Yekaterinburg in the Russian Urals.

The Enthroned Goddess of Catal Huyuk (c.6000 BCE)
Extraordinary terracotta sculpture of a Mother Goddess figure about to give birth while seated on a throne.

Thinker of Cernavoda ('Ganditorul') (c.5000 BCE) Terracotta, National Museum of Romania
Greatest ever contemplative sculpture of prehistory.

Ram in a Thicket (c.2500 BCE) Gold leaf, copper, lapis, lazuli, shell & red limestone
One of the most arresting 3-D artworks of ancient Antiquity. Now in the British Museum, London.

The Bull of Maikop (c.2500 BCE) Gold, Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
One of the greatest gold artifacts made in Bronze Age Russia.

The Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro (c.2500-2000 BCE) Bronze, National Museum, New Delhi
Perhaps the greatest ever statuette of the Indus River Valley Civilization.

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The Greatest Ever Greek Sculptures

For more, see Greek Sculpture Made Simple.

Myron (fl.mid-5th century BCE)
Iconic work of Greek sculpture
Discobolus (c.450 BCE) Marble, Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome

Artist Unknown
One of the great Classical works of Ancient Greece
The Farnese Heracles (5th Century BCE) Marble copy, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples

Artist Unknown
Fabulous balance
Zeus or Poseidon (c.460 BCE) Bronze copy, National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Phidias
Athens-born craftsman, considered the greatest ever Greek sculptor
Statue of Athena (c.440 BCE) Chryselephantine sculpture (now lost) Parthenon, Athens
Statue of Zeus at Olympia (430-422 BCE) (now lost) one of the Seven Wonders of the World
Riace Bronze A (c.450 BCE) Bronze copy, Museo Nazionale, Calabria

Polykleitos (fl.450-420 BCE)
One of the greatest ever Greek sculptors
Wounded Amazon (440-30 BCE) Marble copy, Musei Capitolini, Rome
Doryphorus (440 BCE) Marble copy, Museo Nazionale, Naples

Artist Unknown
Sculpture of the legend surrounding Romulus and Remus, and the foundation of Rome
Capitoline She-Wolf (Romulus & Remus) (c.450 BCE) Bronze, Musei Capitolini, Rome

Artist Unknown
Classical Greek statue
Youth of Antikythera (4th Century BCE) Bronze copy, National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Praxiteles (fl.mid-4th century BCE)
After Phidias, the greatest ever sculptor of Ancient Greece
Apollo Sauroktonos (4th Century BCE) Marble copy, Museo Pio Clementino, Vatican
Capitoline Colonna Venus (350-40 BCE) Marble copy, Musei Capitolini, Rome
Aphrodite of Knidos (350-40) Marble copy, Museo Pio Clementino, Vatican

Leochares (fl. mid/late 4th century BCE)
Worked on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus with Skopas.
Apollo Belvedere (attrib) (c.330 BCE) Marble copy, Vatican Museum

Lysippos (fl.mid/late 4th century BCE)
Greatest Corinth-born sculptor, said to have created 1,500 works all in bronze
The Farnese Hercules (350-300 BCE) Marble copy, Museo Nazionale, Naples

Chares of Lindos (fl. 300-280 BCE)
Celebrated for this huge work, recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Colossus of Rhodes (292-280 BCE) Stone statue, now lost.

Artist Unknown
One of the most famous sculptures of Antiquity
Dying Gaul (c.240 BCE) Marble copy, Musei Capitolini, Rome

Artist Unknown
Stunning semi-relief
The Barberini Faun (c.220 BCE) Marble, Glyptothek, Munich

Artist Unknown
Famous Hellenistic headless statue
Nike of Samothrace (c.190 BCE) Marble, Louvre, Paris

Hagesandrus, Athenodoros & Polydorus
The greatest ever sculpture of Greek art
Laocoon (c.150-50 BCE) Marble copy of bronze original, Museo Pio Clementino, Vatican

Apollonius of Tralles (fl. mid-2nd century BCE)
Famous for its dramatic movement, part of the celebrated Farnese Collection
The Punishment of Dirce ("The Farnese Bull") (2nd Century BCE) Marble copy, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples

Artist Unknown
Three Classical female nudes
The Three Graces (2nd Century BCE) Marble copy, Louvre Paris

Artist Unverified
Most famous Greek statue, signed: "...andros of Antioch on the Maeander"
Venus de Milo (Aphrodite of Melos) (c.100 BCE) Marble, Louvre, Paris

• For more sculptors, see: Skopas (Active 395-350 BCE);
Leochares (Active 340-320 BCE), Callimachus (c.310-240 BCE).

• For details of specific eras and styles of work, see: Daedalic Sculpture (650-600 BCE); Archaic Sculpture (600-500); Early Classical Period (c.500-450); High Classical Period (c.450-400); Late Classical Period (c.400-323); Hellenistic Period (c.323-27) and Statues and Reliefs.

• For more details, see Sculpture of Ancient Greece and Roman Sculpture.

The Greatest Ever Celtic Sculpture

Artist Unknown
From the famous Broighter Collar Hoard, one of the treasures of Celtic art
The Broighter Boat (1st century BCE) La Tene Style, gold, National Museum of Ireland

For another example of Celtic pagan sculpture, see: Turoe Stone.

The Greatest Ever Chinese Sculpture

Artists Unknown (700,000 workers used)
Arguably the greatest ever body of sculpture created in a single location
Terracotta Army (246-208 BCE) clay, Tomb of the Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, Shaanxi

The Greatest Ever Sculptures of the Dark Ages

Artist Unknown
Celtic High Crosses constitute the most significant body of free-standing sculpture produced between the end of the Roman Empire (c.450) and the start of the Italian Renaissance (c.1400)
High Cross of Muiredach (9th Century)sandstone, Monasterboice, County Louth.

More Information
Medieval Sculpture (c.400-1000)
Romanesque Sculpture (c.1000-1200)
Gothic Sculpture (c.1150-1280)
English Gothic Sculpture and German Gothic Sculpture.

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The Greatest Ever Sculptures of the Renaissance Era

Note
• For the top public collections, see: Best Art Museums (World).
• For USA, see: Art Museums in America.
• For European, see: Art Museums in Europe.

Artist Unknown
Almost Expressionist in its emotional appearance
Rottgen Pieta (c.1300 CE) Limewood, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn

Jacopo della Quercia (c.1374-1438)
Sienese sculptor who influenced Michelangelo.
Fonte Gaia Fountain (1414-19) Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
Porta Magna (Main Doorway) (1425) Istrian stone, San Petronio, Bologna

Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455)
Goldsmith trained, small-scale sculptor; this is his masterpiece.
Jacob & Esau Relief, Gates of Paradise (1425–52) Bronze, Baptistery, Florence

Donatello (1386-1466)
Donatello's David is surely the greatest piece of Italian Renaissance Sculpture.
David (c.1440) Bronze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
[For analysis, see: David by Donatello]
Mary Magadalene (c.1455) Painted wood, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
Equestrian Statue of the Gattamelata (Condottiere Erasmo da Narni) (1444-53) Bronze, Piazza del Santo, Siena

Antonio Pollaiuolo (1432-98)
The two grappling figures show the artist's mastery of movement and balance
Heracles & Antaeus (c.1470) Bronze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Michael Pacher (1435-98)
Outstanding Austrian Late Gothic wood-carver and painter.
St Wolfgang Altarpiece (1471-81) Church of Sankt Wolfgang, Abersee

Andrea del Verrocchio (Andrea di Cioni) (1436-88)
The greatest Florentine sculptor between Donatello and Michelangelo
David (c.1475) Bronze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
Equestrian Statue of the Colleone (Bartolomeo Colleoni) (1480-95) Guilded bronze, Campo di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice

Tilman Riemenschneider (1460-1531)
The greatest wood-carver of the Northern Renaissance
The Head Of St Anne (c.1500) Limewood, Hermitage St. Petersburg

Niccolo Dell'Arca (Fl.1462-94)
Huge emotion from the six figures around the body of Jesus
Deploration of the Dead Christ (c.1463) Terracotta, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna

Gregor Erhart (1469-1522)
Noted for its finely detailed hair and bloody skin
Mary Magdalene ("La Belle Allemande") (c.1500) Polychrome limewood, Louvre, Paris

Michelangelo (1475-1564)
The greatest ever sculptor in the history of art
Pieta (1497-9) Marble, Saint Peters Basilica, Rome
David (1501-4) Marble, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
Dying Slave (1513-16) Marble, Louvre, Paris

Veit Stoss (1477-1533)
Second greatest woodcarver of his age after Riemenscheider
Raphael and Tobias (1516) wood, Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg

Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570)
Florence-born classical sculptor, active in the Venetian Renaissance
Venus and Cupid (c.1550) Bronze, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

See also: Renaissance Sculptors.

The Greatest Ever Sculptures of the Mannerist School

Benvenuto Cellini (1500-71)
One of the greatest examples of Florentine Mannerist sculpture
Perseus with the head of Medusa (1545-54) Bronze, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence

Giambologna (1529-1608)
Flemish-born Italian sculptor, the greatest ever exponent of the Mannerism school
Mercury (1564-80) Bronze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
Rape of the Sabine Women (1581-3) Marble, Piazza della Signora, Florence
Hercules and the Centaur (1594-1600) Marble, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence

APPRECIATING PLASTIC ART
See also our two introductory essays on sculpture appreciation, written for teachers or students: How to Appreciate Sculpture (c.40,000 BCE - 1850), as well as our later article How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture (c.1850-2000).

Greatest Ever Sculptures of the Baroque/Rococo School

Francois Duquesnoy (1594-1643)
Flemish sculptor who with Algardi were the top sculptors in Rome after Bernini
Statue of St Andrew (1629-33), Marble, Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican

Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654)
High Baroque classicist sculptor, favourite of Pope Innocent X, main rival of Bernini
Tomb of Pope Leo XI (1634-44) Marble, St Peter's Rome
The Ecstasy of Saint Philip Neri (1638) Marble, Santa Maria in Vallicella, Rome
Pope Leo Driving Attila from the Gates of Rome (1646-53) Marble relief, St Peter's Rome

Giovanni Bernini (1598-1680)
The greatest ever Baroque sculptor
Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1647-52) Marble, Capella Cornaro, Rome
Pluto and Proserpina (1621-2) Marble, Galleria Borghese, Rome
Apollo and Daphne (1622-5) Marble, Galleria Borghese, Rome
Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) Piazza Navona, Rome
Death of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni (1671-4) Marble/jasper, San Francesco a Ripa, Rome

Pierre Puget (1620-94)
The greatest French sculptor of the 17th century
Milo of Crotona (1671-82) Marble, Louvre, Paris

Francois Girardon (1628-1715)
Ranks with Coysevox as the finest sculptor of Louis XIV's reign
Apollo Tended by Nymphs of Thetis (1666-72) Marble, Palace of Versailles
The Rape/Abduction of Proserpine (1693-1710) Bronze, Palace of Versailles

Jean Baptiste Tuby (1635-1700)
One of the world's greatest site-specific stone works, rising from the water
Fountain of Apollo (1671) Bronze, Chateau de Versailles

Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721)
Intricate work by England's greatest wood-carver
Woodcarving of a Cravat (c.1690) Limewood, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Balthasar Permoser (1651-1732)
Wonderful movement and drapery
Apollo (1715) Marble, Staatliche Kunstsammulungen, Dresden

Andreas Schluter (1660-1714)
The greatest Baroque sculptor of Northern Germany
Equestrian Statue of Prince Elector Friedrick William The Great (1689-1708) Bronze, Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin

Guillaume Coustou (1677-1746)
Immense equine power and movement
Horse Restrained by a Groom ("The Marly Horse") (1739-45) Marble, Louvre, Paris

Jean Baptiste Pigalle (1714-85)
Walked to Rome to study at the Academy; became one of the richest French sculptors
Flawless pose and anatomy
Mercury Tying his Talaria (1753) Lead, Louvre, Paris
Voltaire (1776) Marble, Louvre, Paris

Etienne-Maurice Falconet (1716-91)
Most quintessentially Rococo of all French sculptors
Monument to Peter The Great ("The Bronze Horseman") (1766-78) Bronze, Decembrist Square, St Petersburg

For a review of sculpture during this era, see: Baroque/ Rococo Sculptors

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The Greatest Ever Neoclassical Sculptures

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-83)
Austrian noted for his caricature portrait busts known as "Character Heads" (charakterkopfe)
The Hanged Man (1770-83) Alabaster, Osterreichische Gallerie, Vienna

Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823)
One of the Englishman's most serene Neo-classical works
Venus (1773) Marble, J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828)
Neoclassical French sculptor noted for his portraits
Portrait of Voltaire, seated (1781) Marble, Comedie-Francaise, Paris

Franz Anton von Zauner (1746-1822)
Imposing example of Neoclassicism by this Austrian artist
Equestrian Statue of Joseph the Second (1795-1806) Bronze, Josefplatz, Vienna

John Flaxman (1755-1826)
English Neoclassical sculptor, lifelong friend of William Blake
The Fury of Athamas (1790) Marble, Ickworth, UK

Antonio Canova (1757-1822)
The greatest ever Neoclassical sculptor; hugely influential
Apollo Crowning Himself (1781) Marble, J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Theseus and the Minotaur
(1781) Marble, Victoria and Albert Museum
Psyche Awakened by Eros (1787-93) Marble, Louvre, Paris
Penitent Magdalene
(1796) Marble, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa
Perseus and the head of Medusa (1797-1801) Vatican Museums, Rome

Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1884)
Danish artist second only to Canova; after Rodin the best of the 19th Century Sculptors
Jason with the Golden Fleece (1803-28) Marble, Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen
Alexander the Great Entering Babylon (1812, Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome)
Christ and the Twelve Apostles (1819-38, Vor Frue Kirke, Copenhagen)

For a review of sculpture during this era, see: Neoclassical Sculptors.

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The Greatest Ever Sculptures of Modern Art

Jean-Joseph Perraud (1819-76)
One of the artist's classical masterpieces
Despair (1869) Marble, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Pierre-Louis Rouillard (1820-81)
One of the world's great equine sculptures
Horse with a Harrow (1878) Bronze, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-75)
A copy of this famous work stands in the facade of the Paris Opera House
The Dance (1865-9) Stone, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguiere (1831-1900)
The dying child retains a uncanny serenity
Tarcisius, Christian Martyr (1868) Marble, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Lord Frederic Leighton (1830-96)
One of the leading figures of Late Victorian art
Athlete Struggling with a Python (1874-7) Leighton House, London
The Sluggard (1885) Bronze, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904)
Probably the most famous statue in the world
Statue of Liberty (1886) Copper, Liberty Island, New York Harbour

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Made in wax but cast in bronze after Degas' death
Little Dancer aged Fourteen (1879-81) Bronze, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
The greatest ever sculptor in the history of modern art
The Age of Bronze (1876) Bronze, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
The Thinker (1881) Bronze, Musee Rodin, Paris
The Kiss (1888-9) Marble, Musee Rodin, Paris
Burghers of Calais (1889) Bronze, Musee Rodin, Paris

Marius Jean Antonin Mercier (1845-1916)
Beautiful modernistic interpretation
David (c.1872) Bronze, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Daniel Chester French (1850-1931)
Celebrated public monumental sculpture
Statue of Lincoln (1922) Stone, Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

George Minne (1866-1941)
This modern-style work by the Belgian artist has a Donatello feel about it
Kneeling Youth at the Fountain (1898) Bronze, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918)
Short-lived Cubist sculptor, brother of Marcel Duchamp
The Large Horse (1914-18) Original in Philadelphia Museum of Art

James Earle Fraser (1876-1953)
One of the most evocative sculptures of the early 20th century
End of the Trail (1915) Bronze, Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, USA

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
One of the greatest ever sculptors of the 20th century
The Kiss (1907) Stone, Hamburgerkunsthalle, Hamburg
Sleeping Muse (1910), Bronze, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The First Step (1913) Private Collection
Bird in Space (1925-31) Grey marble, Kunsthaus, Zurich

Anna Hyatt Huntingdon (1876-1973)
A masterpiece by a specialist animal and equestrian sculptor
Fighting Stallions (1950) Aluminium, Hyatt Huntingdon Sculpture Garden, S. Carolina

Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)
Controversial New York-born portrait sculptor who settled in London in 1905.
Rock Drill (1913-14) MoMA, New York.
Adam (1938) Harewood House, Leeds, UK.
Jacob and the Angel (1940-41) Tate Liverpool, UK.

Wilhelm Lehmbruck (1881-1919)
The greatest German expressionist sculptor in stone and bronze.
Kneeling Woman (1911) Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Fallen Man (1916) New National Gallery, Berlin.
Seated Youth (1918) Stadel Art Institute and Municipal Gallery, Frankfurt am Main.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Perhaps the most famous 20th century sculptor (and painter)
The Chicago Picasso (1966-7), Steel, Daley Plaza, Chicago

Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916)
Italian Futurist sculptor and painter, this work is his masterpiece
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) Bronze, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Elie Nadelman (1882-1946)
Polish-born artist, married wealthy widow, noted for witty "high-society" works
Standing Nude (c.1908), Bronze, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Man in the Open Air (c.1915) Bronze, Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Henri Laurens (1885-1954)
French sculptor, trained as ornamental stonemason, influenced by Rodin & Cubism
Crouching Woman (The Farewell) Bronze, Private Collection

Jean Arp (1886-1966)
French avant-garde artist, Dada artist and Surrealist, noted for sensuous biomorphic pieces
Torso (1932) White Marble, Georges Pompidou Centre

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)
Pioneer of modernism in America
Abstraction (1946) Cast Aluminium, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Walking Woman (1912) Denver Museum of Art
The Boxing Match (1914) Guggenheim Museum, New York

Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967)
Russian-born expressionistic sculptor; this is one of the greatest ever sculptures
The Destroyed City (1953) Bronze, Schiedamse Dijk, Rotterdam

Naum Gabo (Naum Neemia Pevsner) (1890-1977)
Russian-born artist, trained as an engineer, member of Constructivism school. One of the earliest abstract sculptors of the 20th century.
Linear Construction in Space, No. 4 (1962) Plastic/stainless steel, Whitney Museum of Art
Head No. 2 (original 1916), enlarged version (1964), Tate Collection, London

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)
Short-lived avant-garde French sculptor & draughtsman, active in London
Red Stone Dancer (1913) Sandstone, Tate Gallery, London

Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973)
Lithuanian-born artist, knew Matisse, Modigliani & Picasso, pioneer of Cubism
Mother and Child (1930) Bronze Sculpture, Honolulu Academy of Arts

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
American artist, inventor of the 'mobile', pioneer of Kinetic art & "motion in art"
Myxomatose (1953) Sculpture of Sheet metal/paint, Calder Foundation, New York
Man (1967) External Sculpture of Metal Plate/Bolts, City of Montreal

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
The greatest ever British sculptor. See: Modern British Sculpture 1930-70.
Reclining Figure (1936) Elmwood, Wakefield Gallery, West Yorkshire
Draped Reclining Mother and Baby, (No date) The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
Moon Head (1964) Bronze, Henry Moore Foundation, Leeds
Two Forms (1966) Soraya marble, Staehein Private Collection, Zurich

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The Greatest Ever Sculptures of Contemporary Art

Louise Nevelson (1899-1988)
Russian-born American sculptor, famous for her assemblage art and "sculptured walls"
Sky Cathedral (1958) Painted Wood, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Alberto Giacometti (1901-66)
Swiss sculptor noted for his "existentialist" art, notably his emaciated elongated figure sculptures
Woman with her Throat Cut (La Femme Egorgee) (1932) Bronze, Private Collection
Cat (1954) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Walking Man I (1960) Bronze, Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Marino Marini (1901-80)
One of the most outstanding Italian sculptors of the 20th century
Horse (1950) Bronze, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Barbara Hepworth (1903-75)
Key figure in the development of British abstract sculpture
Pierced Form (1931) - destroyed during World War II

Salvador Dali (1904-89)
The most famous Surrealist sculptor
Mae West Lips Sofa (1937) Wood & satin, Private Collection
Lobster Telephone (1936) Plastic, painted plaster and mixed media, Tate Collection

FE McWilliam (1909-1992)
Northern Ireland's greatest ever sculptor
Eyes, Nose and Cheek (1939) Tate Collection, London.
Legs Static (c.1960) Bronze, Banbridge, Co.Down
Woman in a Bomb Blast (1974), Bronze, AIB Bank Collection

Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
French-American sculptress, one of America's leading contemporary artists
Maman (1999) Bronze, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Crouching Spider (2003) Pier 11, San Francisco, California

Meret Oppenheim (1913-85)
German-Swiss artist, Surrealist with Dada tendencies; this is her masterpiece
Object ("Furry Breakfast") (1936) Fur-covered cup, saucer & spoon, MoMA New York

Cesar Baldaccini (1921-98)
French experimental artist noted for his "Compressions" and "Expansions" series
Divided Head (1963) Bronze, Fiorini, London

Glid Nandor (1924-97)
A former camp inmate, noted for his Holocaust art and sculpture
Holocaust Memorial Sculpture, Dachau, Germany

Duane Hanson (1925-96)
American noted for Superrealism life-size sculptures of people in everyday life
Young Shopper (1973) Polyester/Fibreglass Lifesize Sculpture, Saatchi Gallery, London

Arman (1928-2005)
French postmodernist sculptor and assemblage artist, noted for his poubelles and accumulations.
Long Term Parking (1982) cars/concrete, Cartier Museum, Chateau de Montcel, Jouy-en-Josas.

Sol LeWitt (b.1928)
American conceptual artist and sculptor noted for box-like constructions
Open Geometric Structure IV (1990) Painted wood, Lisson Gallery, London.

Claes Oldenburg (b.1929)
Most famous Pop art sculptor
Floor Burger (1962) Canvas, Foam Rubber and Cardboard, Gallery of Ontario

Jasper Johns (b.1930)
American painter, sculptor, printmaker, pioneer of early Pop art
Ale Cans (1964) Oil on Bronze, Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

Jonathan De Pas (1932-91), Donato D'Urbino (b.1935) Paolo Lomazzi (b.1936)
These three Italian artists designed this masterpiece of Pop art
Joe Sofa (1968) Private Collection

Mark Di Suvero (b.1933)
American sculptor noted for his large scale iron/steel public sculpture
Storm Angel (1973-4) Iron, Square Chabas, Chalon-sur-Saone

Walter de Maria (b.1935)
American contemporary artist noted for his minimalist sculptures and conceptual art
Cage II (1965) Stainless steel, MoMA New York

Richard Serra (b.1939)
Leading American creator of huge steel sculptures for public spaces
Snake (1994-97) Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
The Matter of Time (2004) Guggenheim Bilbao

John De Andrea (b.1941)
American Superrealist sculptor noted for his hyper-realist nudes
Couple (1971) Acrylic on Polyester, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris

Antony Gormley (b.1950)
This work, by the A1 motorway, won this British artist the Turner Prize in 1994
The Angel of the North (1998) Steel, Gateshead, UK

Rowan Gillespie (b.1953)
Arguably Ireland's greatest ever figurative sculptor
Echo (1981), Bronze, AIB Bank Collection
The Famine (1996-7), Bronze, Custom House Quay, Dublin
The Cashel Dancers (1991), Bronze, Rock of Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland
Aspiration (1995), Bronze, Treasury Building, Dublin

Anish Kapoor (b.1954)
British abstract sculptor, won the Turner Prize in 1991
Cloud Gate (2004) Stainless steel, Millennium Park, Chicago
Marsyas (2002) Turbine Hall, Tate Modern Gallery

Jeff Koons (b.1955)
American sculptor and conceptual artist, famous for his Neo-Pop art
Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988) Porcelain/Gold, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
Puppy (1992) Flowering Plants, steel, wood, earth (Bilbao Guggenheim)
Balloon Dog (1994-2000), Stainless steel with colour, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

Sudobh Gupta (b.1964)
Contemporary sculptor
Very Hungry God (2006), kitchen utensils, pots and pans, Private Collection

Damien Hirst (b.1965)
Britain's greatest ever exponent of postmodernism.
Virgin Mother (2005) Plaza of Lever House, New York City.

Damian Ortega (b.1967)
Contemporary sculptor
Controller of the Universe (2007) Found tools and wire, Private Collection

See also American Sculptors (1850-present).

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Greatest Ever Relief Sculptures

See below for a list of the most famous sculptural reliefs: that is, sculptures that project from a background surface, rather than freestanding. Most often used for architectural decoration, especially in cathedrals and churches. Relief sculpture is tradionally classified according to its degree of projection, and includes categories such as high (alto rilievo, haut-relief), medium (mezzo relievo), low (basso rilievo, bas-relief), or very low (rilievo schiacciato).

Best Reliefs

Venus of Laussel (c.23,000 BCE) limestone, Musee d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux
The earliest known bas-relief in the history of art
Tuc d'Audoubert Bison (c.13,500 BCE) unfired clay, Tuc d'Audoubert Cave, France
Parthenon Relief Sculpture (c.446-430 BCE), Acropolis Museum, British Museum, Louvre Paris
Temple of Apollo Epikourios, East Frieze (c.420 BCE) Marble, British Museum
Mausoleum of Harlicarnassus, Bodrum, Amazon Frieze (c.350 BCE), Marble, British Museum
Ludovisi Sarcophagus (3rd Century BCE) Marble, Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome
Pergamon Altar of Zeus (c.180 BCE), Marble, Pergamon Museum, Berlin
Ara Pacis Augustae, North Frieze (13-9 BCE), Marble, Ara Pacis Museum, Rome
Trajan's Column (113 CE) Memorial Narrative of Trajan's Dacian War, Marble, Rome
Arch of Constantine (c.312 CE), Marble, Rome - see also: Relief Sculpture: Ancient Rome
Gates of Hell (1880-1917) bronze, by Auguste Rodin: Rodin Museum Philadelphia

The Greatest Romanesque Relief Sculpture includes works at:

• Canterbury Cathedral (10th/11th Century) Canterbury, England
• Saint-Lazare Cathedral (10th/11th Century) Autun, France
• Sainte-Marie Abbey (10th/11th Century) Souillac, France
• Sainte-Foy Abbey Church (10th-14th Century) Conques-en-Rouergue, France

The Greatest Gothic Relief Sculpture includes works at:

• Abbey Church of Saint-Denis (1140-1281) Paris
• Notre Dame Cathedral (c.1160-1250) Paris
• Chartres Cathedral (after 1194) France
• Reims Cathedral (begun 1211) France
• Canterbury Cathedral (after 1100) England
• Amiens Cathedral (1220-35) France
• Burgos Cathedral (1220-35) Spain
• Wells Cathedral (after 1230) England
• Westminster Abbey (after 1245) London
• Leon Cathedral (c.1250-75) Spain
• Cologne Cathedral (c.1250-1300) Germany
• Seville Cathedral (c.1400-20) Spain

For more about the development of architectural art, including examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical styles, see: Architecture: History

Greatest Ever Altarpiece Sculptures

The finest altarpiece sculpture includes works at:

• Eglise Saint-Didier, Avignon (1481) in stone, by Veit Stoss
• St Wolfgang Altarpiece, Austria (1481), in wood, by Michael Pacher
• Church of St Mary, Krakow (1489) in wood, by Veit Stoss
• St Jakob Kirche, Rothenburg (1504) in linden wood, by Tilman Riemenschneider
• Benedictine Abbey Church, Blaubeuren (1494) in wood, by Gregor Erhart
• Herrgottskirche, Cregligen-am-Taube (1510) in limewood, by Tilman Riemenschneider
• Altarpiece of the Passion/Childhood of Christ, Anvers (1520) in oak, anonymous
• Uberlingen Kirche, Uberlingen (1616), in oak, by Jorg Zurn

• For biographies of famous sculptors from Ireland, see: Irish Sculpture.
• For reviews of the finest statues and relief sculptures, see: Homepage.


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