Sculpture, artistic creation of three-dimensional forms in materials such as stone, metal, wood, or even foam rubber.
High cost and durability tended to make ancient sculpture an official and conservative art form. This is evident in the monumental sculpture of Egypt, which changed little in 2,000 years. Greek sculptors aimed to portray beauty of soul as well as body, and idealized the human form. In the archaic period (about 630–480 B.C.) Egyptian influence is evident in the frontal, stylized figures, showing little movement or emotion. Greater realism led to the classical perfection of Phidias, and in the 4th century to Praxiteles, with his more sensuous forms and wider range of expression. The Hellenistic Age favored an exaggerated style, of which the Laocoön sculpture and the Winged Victory of Samothrace are fine examples. Roman sculpture was deeply indebted to Greek art but was also under Etruscan influence and excelled at realistic portraiture.
The Western tradition revived about A.D. 1000 with the elongated, stylized figures of Romanesque art leading to the more graceful and expressive sculptures of Gothic art. Renaissance sculpture, starting about 1350, was dominated by the Italians. Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello treated classical models in a new spirit, and Michelangelo gave to works, such as his David, an inner tension quite foreign to classicism. The elegant mannerism of Benvenuto Cellini and the elaborate baroque style of Gian Bernini gave way about 1800 to the neoclassical reaction of Jean-Antoine Houdon, Antonio Canova, and Bertel Thorvaldsen. The great 19th-century sculptor Auguste Rodin created a style of partially unworked figures, such as his Balzac, influencing Jacob Epstein. This century has seen the abstract art of Constantin Brancusi and Jean Arp, while Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti showed interest in the human form. Outstanding U.S. sculptors are David Smith and Alexander Calder, who utilized mobiles to create movable sculpture.