Sculpture, as the branch of the visual arts, operates in all three dimensions, and is created from almost unlimited variety of mediums. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving ie: the removal of material and modeling ie: the addition of material such as clay. Popular sculpturing mediums used by artists are stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials however, since modernism, shifts in the sculptural process led have expanded upon the more traditional materials into an almost complete freedom of materials and processes. A literal cornucopia of materials are now utilized by creative sculptors by removal such as carving, assembling by welding or modeling, in addition to molding, or casting.
Stone sculptures survive far better than works of art in degradable materials, and often represent the majority of the surviving works, other than pottery, from ancient culture. Conversely, ancient wooden sculptures have vanished almost entirely. Furthermore, most ancient sculptures were brightly painted, and even when the sculpture itself has survived, these embellishments have long been lost.
Sculpture has been central in religious practices within many cultures, and until recent centuries large sculptures, normally too expensive for private individuals to create, were most often an expression of religion or politics. Cultures whose sculptures have survived in quantities include the Ancient Mediterranean, India and China, as well as some in 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 the passions of the Christianity. The revival of classical models in the Renaissance produced famous sculptures such as Michelangelo’s “David.” Modernist sculpture subsequently moved away from traditional processes and the emphasis on the depiction of the human body, with the advent of constructed sculpturing, and the presentation of found objects as finished works of art.