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Anthropomorphic stele of the 4th millennium BC From El-Maakir-Qaryat al-Kaafa; National Museum , Riyadh

Sculpture refers to the genre of fine art in which three-dimensional sculptures consisting of solid materials were and are created.

About the term and its synonyms

Although a sculptor is originally a craftsman who knocks his sculptures out of the stone, the term sculpture is now used as a generic term for all physically shaped, visually perceptible works of art. The generic terms sculpture and sculpture are used with the same meaning . The basic meaning of sculpture and plastic , however, is a single work of art.

In the literal or narrower sense, one can differentiate: A sculpture is created by “applying” soft material and building it up from the inside out, while a sculpture is created by chopping off and cutting away hard material. Such a distinction is rarely made in real language use, however, the two terms are predominantly used as synonyms (see plastic ).

The term sculpture can also designate the art of sculpture as a genre, but it refers more to the manual or professional aspect of the activity. Sculpture is an outdated term for the art of sculpture.

General information on material and shape

The starting materials determine the sculptor's working techniques. They depend on the intended function of the work and influence its shape and meaning. Although the most varied of materials have served as images throughout history, certain preferences and traditions can still be identified. The classic material among metals is permanent bronze. Stone and ceramics are hardly inferior to it in terms of durability, while wood and bone were cheaper options for the manufacturer. The core and surface can consist of different materials: We know that Greek marble figures and other ancient sculptures were all painted, which was usually lost except for microscopic remains. Some of the ancient bronzes were gilded. Carved medieval cult images were sometimes wrapped in gold sheets. Otherwise, the wooden sculpture was painted throughout until the Renaissance, and these versions were often removed due to lack of understanding or reasons of taste. For many decades now, sculptors have been looking for new ways and new materials, often using elements that have already gone through a manufacturing and usage process ( ready-made ) or are pre-formed by nature ( Land Art ). Contemporary art has spawned a number of non-traditional media that are often attributed to sculpture: sound and light sculptures, montages, collages , assemblages , environments , installations , kinetic sculptures and others.

An important formal identification concerns the degree of plasticity. Thus, a sculpture in the round or free-standing sculpture , as for us. B. encountered at monuments in public places, a picture designed for a view from all sides, while a full sculpture can still have a connection to the relief ground or wall. Regardless of this, all design variants are possible between block-like closed, self-contained volumes and expansive, indistinctly delimited bodies. The plastic bases, pedestals , consoles , canopies , niches , tabernacles and other architectural elements are used to bind to a specific environment or to highlight . In the case of the relief , all degrees of elevation are possible from the ground up, from the highly raised high relief working with fully rounded details to the half relief to the painterly-looking bas-relief, even the negative relief of ancient Egyptian art. The relief is a common medium for groups of figures and narrative representations. It is the obvious form for building sculpture , especially friezes and the decoration of handicraft objects.

Since sculpture has three-dimensionality in common with architecture, it is often intentionally related to it. The plastic elements can be integrated constructively ( atlases , caryatids , keystones , capitals ) or only more or less reversibly attached ( reliefs , balustrades , niche figures).

Sculpture takes place on a very different scale. This ranges from micro-carving in cherry stones to reliefs on gems and cameos , coins , medals and plaques, to small sculptures (e.g. netsukes ) and porcelain figurines to large- scale sculptures; this in turn encompasses everything between life-size statuesque sculptures and larger-than-life monumental sculptures such as the 108 m high record holder Zhongyuan Buddha .

Features and themes

Furthermore, pictorial works can be examined and systematized according to their purpose and topic: the production of pictorial works for cultic purposes, be it for the worship of the numinous or for the purpose of a local ruler's cult , be it for public effectiveness or for private devotion, has determined long stretches since the very beginning of art history to the present day. Even the oldest bone carvings from the Swabian cave finds are assigned magical or shamanic meanings. Something similar is suspected of the Cycladic idols, whose baselessness indicates a non-local use. These small sculptures are juxtaposed with monumental images of gods from the Greek sanctuaries. The Roman emperors surrounded themselves with the busts of their deified predecessors, thus anticipating their own apotheosis . The crucified Christ and the depiction of the Mother of God have been central cult images in Christian sculpture since the Middle Ages. Giving an image of man (not only where the deity was formed in his image) has been the most important task of sculpture throughout history until the very recent past. See main article History of the Portrait . Special forms are the monument , this also in the form of the equestrian statue , otherwise as a bust or statue , and the tomb , which is similar in function . In the course of modern times, however, this has become less and less figurative. Garden sculpture, which flourished in the Baroque period, forms a separate category when these sculptures, mostly in cyclical sequences of allegories and ancient heroes or gods, were integrated into the strict regularity of the garden art order.

Independent animal representations are among the oldest sculptures of mankind, but in the course of history they have not always been depicted as often as, for example, in medieval bronze art or between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. Often they were limited to certain symbolic (lion as a column-bearing door guard, for door pulls , aquamaniles ) or decorative (medieval building sculpture, porcelain figures) functions. It is understandable for technical reasons that plants practically only appear as reliefs in the sculpture, but even there they rarely acquire iconographic weight, remain decorative ingredients and are subject to stylization. Her motifs (e.g. palmette and arabesque ) run throughout history from the early advanced civilizations of the Middle East to modern European times.


The sculptures from cultures dating back far back have been preserved in a disproportionate distribution: works made of stone and fired clay have been preserved more often than those made of perishable materials, which with a few exceptions have been lost. In certain cultures and at certain times, images have been deliberately destroyed for religious or ideological reasons ( iconoclasm ).

Prehistory and early history

The earliest finds of small figurative sculptures in Europe come from the Stone Age, more precisely: the Aurignacien , (→ main article Upper Palaeolithic small art ). The works made of ivory, bone, minerals of low hardness and clay mainly reproduce animal motifs and female figures . The idol character of these works continues right up to the beginnings of European high cultures. The small marble Cycladic idols from around 5000 BC represent an important group . BC to 1600 BC The Neolithic statue menhirs spread between Crimea and the western Mediterranean form a group of early large-scale figurative sculptures . See also: Nuragic sculpture

Head of Akhenaten , limestone relief around 1350/40 BC BC, Egyptian Museum Berlin

The development of sculpture in the early advanced civilizations is related to the development of closed states, secured territories, and priesthoods serving rulers and canonical rites. Similar to Asian and South American cultures, this also applies to the early art of the Near East. The Egyptian Art was formed with the Pharaonic v State since about the 3000th Chr. Out. Its formal characteristics are flatness and “single view”, in the sculpture the emphasis on the frontal and / or pure side view. The posture of the ageless figures is consistently rigid, often block-like ( cube stool ). Their meaning is revealed from the scale and inscriptions, the latter in the form of pictorial hieroglyphics . Only in the Amarna period is z. B. with the portraits of Nefertiti and Akhenaten a will for individualization clearly. There is no foreshortening of any perspective in the always flat reliefs . The main purpose of the representations is to visually anticipate or even ensure continued life in the afterlife. Hard stone was the preferred material of the Egyptian sculptors (or more correctly: their clients). From the Near Eastern part of the Ancient Orient , the flat reliefs and large sculptures of the Neo-Assyrian period (11th – 7th centuries BC) with their hunting scenes, figures of gods and rulers, the subsequent Neo-Babylonian period (625-539 BC) are to be emphasized . Chr.) With the glazed clay reliefs of the processional street and the Ishtar Gate from Babylon and the stone and clay reliefs of the Achaemenid culture (from the 6th century BC). In the entire Mesopotamian area, the glyptic with its reliefs on stamps and cylinder seals plays a special role in the transmission of the imagery there.

Articles on important individual works from pre-ancient history can be found using the following lists:


Diadumenos, Roman marble copy (1st century AD) based on the Greek bronze original by Phidias , (around 440 BC), British Museum

In the Minoan art in Crete , (small) sculpture plays only a minor role. The qualities of the Mycenaean sculpture are easy to observe in a small format, even if the Lion Gate of Mycenae (around 1300 BC) is particularly well-known as the oldest surviving monumental sculpture of antiquity. The epoch of archaic art in Greece (700–500 BC) is most clearly represented in figurative sculpture. A development can be observed on the Kuroi and Koren , which leads to liveliness, the dissolution of blockiness and a turning away from strict frontality. In the strict style (around 490 / 480–460 / 450 BC, also called “Early Classical”), a transition phase to the High Classical period , the ponderation is developed and the compositional agility increased. In the few decades of the high classical heyday (around 450-420 BC), Greek sculpture was of paramount importance for the whole of the following development, not only of the plastic arts and not only of antiquity . In it, the free figure with its anatomically precisely captured, lively physicality and the standing motif of the counter post (" supporting leg - free leg ") was brought to perfection. The late Classics of the 4th century BC Chr. Created the individualized portrait for the first time . In Hellenism (from 336 BC) the everyday, even the grotesque, became the realistically reproduced subject of sculpture. Jacob Burckhardt coined the term Pergamene Baroque for the violently moving style of the late period, which now also expressed emotions .

Influenced by Greek art, but developing independently, Etruscan art has been asserting itself since the 6th century BC. BC with the characteristic reclining figures bedded on sarcophagi . In addition to many of these terracotta sculptures , some outstanding bronze statues, portrait heads and numerous dedicatory offerings have been preserved.

Etruscan and Greek models determined the development of Roman art . In the figurative, round-view sculpture, Rome hardly developed any independent creations and limited itself to the imitation of Greek originals. The portrait, on the other hand - as a bust and statue - in its individual and realistic form , which extends into the veristic, is Rome's great artistic achievement. The memorial and propagandistic function of this pictorial genre also played a role in the other great achievement of Roman sculpture: the relief . Already in the 1st century BC A deep spatial illusionism developed in the figurative fields of the victory columns and triumphal arches , which became exemplary for occidental relief art.

Archangel, Byzantine ivory relief, 525–550

In early Christian art from the 4th to 6th centuries In the 19th century, sarcophagus sculpture became the most important task for sculptors. In other contexts too, the sculpture is limited to the relief. The aversion of Christian art to the (probably perceived as idol-like) full-round large sculpture should prevail until the turn of the millennium. Byzantine art also did without the free-standing monumental sculpture , but the numerous high-quality ivory diptychs are also of particular importance because of their influence on small medieval sculptures.

All articles relating to significant individual works of ancient sculpture can be identified and selected using the following category lists:

middle Ages

The Carolingian art is the result of the imperial effort to transfer the late antique, already Christian-influenced cultural substance into his present. Thus, as a continuation of an ancient tradition , manuscripts from the Ada group were provided with ivory book covers adorned with scenic reliefs. As with illumination, the same applies here that the spatial and plastic elements of ancient art based on illusionistic effects have been transformed into graphical-linear and the eventful features have been reinterpreted as solemn. Nothing has survived from large-scale sculpture (if it actually existed at all).

With the strengthening of political power under the Ottonian emperors , the art centers in their home territories assumed a leading position at the turn of the first millennium. The tasks of sculpture had hardly changed since the Carolingian era, reliefs made of ivory and gold predominate, but large, figuratively decorated bronze door leaves, in which late antique tradition once again survives, are now emerging. For the first time in the Middle Ages we see fully sculptural cult images, the Golden Madonna in Essen and the Gero Cross in Cologne Cathedral. It should be noted that until the late Middle Ages, sculptural art took place almost exclusively in the church sector.


With Romanesque art , that is, since around 1060, monumental architectural sculptures gained importance from around 1100 . Even if individual motifs from Roman art are reproduced selectively, it is generally a new beginning, not a continuation of antiquity. In southern France ( Cluny , Autun , Vézelay , Moissac , Toulouse ), as well as in northern Italy and northern Spain, the tympana , capitals and portal vestments are richly decorated with ornaments and figures. Technical, stylistic and iconographic suggestions spread along the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela via wandering construction huts . The link between the stone sculpture and the church architecture will be retained throughout the Middle Ages with a few exceptions. The plasticity is not yet able to leave the boundaries of the relief. Your goal is not to imitate nature and reality. This is how the many grotesque and demonic hybrids come into play, and robes and entire compositions can also become ornament. Iconographically, the strong, ruling, judging God is the focus of the monumental sculpture, subordinate image locations are often occupied with moralizing themes in which devils and mythical creatures also play their part. The German sculpture of the 12th century (compared to France) is more dedicated to the pieces of furniture inside the church. Three regional focal points can be identified for Romanesque metal art: The bronze sculpture and goldsmith's art of the Meuse region (Liège) also had a style-forming power for the stonemasonry and points to the Gothic. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Rhineland (Cologne) contributed the most splendid reliquary shrines in the form of small architecture decorated with figures. Lower Saxony's (Hildesheim, Magdeburg, Braunschweig) special service is again the bronze casting.

Early and High Gothic

The redesign of the church facade goes hand in hand with the greatest artistic task of the early and high Gothic , the construction of the cathedral , and develops the figure portal with statues of robes , Trumeau figures , tympanum reliefs and archivolt figures . The development begins with buildings in northern France around 1130. The relationship between sculpture and architecture changes: the decorations on the capitals disappear, the church portal becomes the place where the round figure becomes independent (that is, overcomes the “Romanesque” relief) without, however, completely to detach from the architecture. What remains is a “pictorial space”, marked by a base / console and canopy or a tabernacle . This characteristic remained decisive in Europe until the end of the Middle Ages and distinguishes his sculpture from that of antiquity and modern times. The whole world of images of the High Middle Ages, systematically organized and related, spreads out on the facades of the Gothic cathedrals of northern France and the Ile-de-France . The new style moves on quickly and with a high concentration of monuments, not without changing: the west portals of Chartres Cathedral (around 1150) still with elongated, floating figures with linearly drawn robes, the Parisian Coronation portal (from around 1210) and the West portals of Amiens (after about 1220) with the highest degree of solemn and austere beauty within the Gothic style development, the sculpture in Reims around 1220–1240, which loses this firmness in favor of soft flowing forms derived from goldsmithing. Meanwhile, starting from Paris, a development begins that develops much of what is commonly understood as "Gothic": a style of elegant movement, happy smiles and precious gestures, as in the famous "smiling angel" of the Annunciation on the Reimser West portal appears around the middle of the 13th century.

The European expansion of the French cathedral style took place in various ways. English sculpture initially remained attached to the flat and ornamental. In Spain one can observe how the architecture often disappears behind rich, relief-like surface decoration, an Iberian peculiarity explained by the after-effects of Moorish traditions and which continued for centuries.

Sculpture in Italy had never completely lost sight of antiquity. In contrast to the north, where the division of labor organization of the building huts counteracted individualization, Italian works were already determined in the Gothic period by the handwriting of certain artist personalities, who are often also known by name. Around 1260, Nicola Pisano and his son developed a style, often referred to as the Proto-Renaissance , which is obviously determined by Roman sarcophagus art. Now the relief plays a role again as the medium of a narrative richly decorated with figures on the pulpits, tombs and fountains. What is Gothic about them is their integration into a structural framework and that “the artfully interwoven, systematic form of this cyclical compilation is unthinkable without the organizing program of French monumental sculpture” ( Georg Swarzenski ). Nicolas' son Giovanni Pisano , who had been in Reims, brought a program of figures to the facade of the Sienese cathedral . But he did not fall back on the figure portal (which otherwise never reached Italy), but preferred fully round figures placed freely in front of the wall.

The reception of the Gothic in the German-speaking areas developed differently again. Saxon sculptures, such as the choir screens in Hildesheim (after 1192) and Halberstadt (around 1200/1210) or the Golden Gate in Freiberg (around 1230) are still heavily dependent on older local traditions. At about the same time, in Strasbourg, which is much closer to France, sculptures were created that were created by a workshop that migrated from Chartres and that stand out for their movement, pose, grace and expression. A cycle of sculptures in Bamberg Cathedral is stylistically dependent on models from Reims Cathedral, but portrays it with a pathos that was far removed from Western models ( Bamberg Rider , around 1225). A little later, influenced by Bamberg, the other large equestrian image of the early Gothic was created: Otto the Great , formerly on Magdeburg's market square, the oldest surviving free-standing equestrian statue from the Middle Ages. Pose and facial expressions express the seriousness of a legal symbol. At the same time, the garment figures of the clever and foolish virgins play through all the variants of blissful smiles and deepest despair. An even more recent design language was brought back from France by a workshop called the Naumburg Master . In the meantime, the garment style had lost the graphic linearity of the early Gothic even more. Correspondingly, the formal language in the sculpture of the Naumburg workshop has also become heavier. The robes have been given volume and no longer have ornamental folds, but folds copied from reality. The closeness to life of the secular figures in the Naumburg Stifterchor (whose individuality, however, has no portrait-like significance) and the haunted rood screen reliefs represent "the most important contribution of Staufer Germany to the transformation of Christian art that took place at the Gothic cathedral".

Late Gothic

In the 14th century the tasks for the sculptor changed. The importance of building sculpture, apart from local exceptions, is declining and with it that of building huts for the development of sculpture. For the stonemason, in addition to equipment elements for the interior of the church (pulpit, rood screen, baptismal font), the tomb remains an important field of work . Up to the end of the Middle Ages, little changed in his main motif, the depiction of the dead man laid out. What is clear, however, is the development towards realistic characterization up to true portraiture. The spatial and meaningful connection between the burial place and the church is always preserved. The stone sculptors break out of the huts and take the side of the guild-bound sculptors in the town's towns . The young sculptor is now walking, not the whole hut.

One of the most important innovations is the devotional image inspired by mysticism . Its most important types are the Pietà , the Man of Sorrows , the Christ-John group , the holy grave and the branch cross . They are predominantly figures or groups carved in wood, no longer set up in a structural or cyclical context, which are no longer part of a theological teaching structure, but instead address the mind of the individual, inviting him to pity and to contemplate. In this sense, the image of Mary also underwent a change and now, with moments of maternal, emotional and playfulness, comes close to the subjective image understanding even of the unlearned citizen.

The high points of plastic art in the decades around 1400 are shaped by influences and style parallels that radiated from various court centers in Europe and are therefore also summarized as " International Gothic ". From 1365, the sculptural art of Peter Parler originated from Prague, the residence of Emperor Charles IV. His triforium busts in St. Vitus Cathedral depict people who are still alive. Decisive stimuli for realism (which will only come to full fruition in the late 15th century) grew out of the southern Netherlands . They were also the home of Claus Sluter , whose few powerful and expressive works mark an astonishingly early high point of Gothic art on the way to modern individualization.

Around 1400 these innovations also reached the urban bourgeois culture (Cologne, Nuremberg, Siena, Florence); her art of expression is expressed here, however, more in elegant, beautiful lines and tender emotionality (cf. the not undisputed auxiliary terms “ soft style ” and “ beautiful Madonna ”). The flexible figures are surrounded by a previously unknown abundance of material that forms deep, softly curved folds and the hems of which cascade-like contours the figures. It is significant that in these decades soft, malleable clay temporarily became a material option for artists. With Hans Multscher from around 1430 one can observe how this courtly ideal of form is being replaced by more realistic design methods. At first sight, this is most evident in the wrinkling play and the hard fragility of the fold style, which in this form prevailed on a broad front around 1440–1450. Niclas Gerhaert van Leyden , who works in many places, goes beyond that: The organic structure of his figures, the sensual feeling for materiality and the lively principle of Gothic complexity are described as ingenious. Not uninfluenced by contemporary printmaking itself, Gerhaert's art had a clear impact on sculpture on the Upper Rhine, as the Dangolsheim Madonna from around 1470 clearly shows.

If the devotional image was the leitmotif of the 14th century, at the end of the Middle Ages, especially in the German-speaking world, the grand piano retable became the main task for the sculptor, who now mainly worked in wood. In view of the great losses, the innumerable large number of preserved altarpieces is only one of the signs that sculpture production increased again around 1500. Initiated by families and corporations, their diversity now fills the ships and newly built side chapels in the civic churches of the big cities. At larger altars, scenes full of figures tell of the Passion , the life of the Virgin , and the legends of the saints . The first individual artist names appear in significant numbers in the 15th century and remain tangible for us today. (Individual articles on sculptors of the era can be found in the category: Sculptors of the Middle Ages ). At the same time, the regionality of styles is gaining in importance, so that today we often works, of which further details are not documented about their origins, a small area defined Art Landscapes certain stylistic analysis can assign.

That both regionality and the style-forming power of individual artists interact can be seen in the work of Tilman Riemenschneider , whose expressive physiognomic characterization style also radiated to other workshops in the Main Franconian area. He appears as an innovator with his windowed room backgrounds, which give the scenes drama and depth, but above all because of the renunciation of the colored version of some of his works, which he practiced for the first time .

For Michael Pacher in Tyrol, the northern Italian art centers were closer than for carvers further north . What he had seen and learned there, including in Padua, flowed into his style. Pacher places groups of figures seen from a large perspective in rooms built with a central perspective , thus overcoming the fragmentation and tight structure of older Gothic altar walls. But the glow and sparkle of the golden frame still play a decisive role in the effect of the picture. The main work is his altar in St. Wolfgang .

With Veit Stoss , too , for example in his Krakow altar , the new is the renaissance-like combination of the shrine figures into a unified pictorial stage.

This increase, which culminated in the decades around 1500, also means the end of the late Gothic style development, in which the emphasis of artistic importance in sculpture as a whole had shifted from France to the German-speaking countries.

You can find all individual items on important Gothic altars in the list of categories: Gothic Altar

Modern times


No country is as closely linked to the epoch term " Renaissance " as Italy. Here, where ancient relics constantly came to light and where the ancient authors were first researched and reprinted, the aftereffects of the aesthetic ideals of the ancient world never completely disappeared. The Renaissance had a long “lead time”, which was expressed in the Protenaissance of the Romanesque ( Benedetto Antelami ) and the Gothic ( Niccolò Pisano ). The transition took place quite differently in the countries of the north, which at the end of the Middle Ages were able to seamlessly adapt the new, already developed style. Constituent elements of the new understanding of art were the central perspective (school example: Lorenzo Ghiberti's second baptistery door in Florence, 1425–1452), as a nude in counterost ( Donatello's David around 1440) and as a portrait (Donatello: bust of Niccolo da Uzzano, around 1430–1440 , his equestrian statue of Gattamelata , 1447, and that of Colleoni von Verrocchio , 1479–1488) reproduced the physical appearance of man. Even if Donatello's David was originally a figure for a niche, it fulfills the classic ideal of a statue that can be viewed from all sides and, accordingly, Michelangelo's David was freely placed on the Piazza della Signoria in 1504 . The preference for the materials bronze and marble in this era is due to the ancient model. While the early days of the Renaissance were still shaped by the model of harmony, at its climax and at the same time the end, the work of Michelangelo, expressiveness and power ( his contemporaries even spoke of terribilitá ) are the decisive artistic means.

In the Renaissance, it was not so much the churches that were the clients. Although the pictorial themes still predominantly belong to the biblical-Christian cosmos, they have lost their purely sacred character, they serve the glory of secular and spiritual princes, are intended to testify to their understanding of art and thus contribute to a competition in which not only artists, but rulers, cities and corporations compete with one another as patrons of the arts. Being the medium for self-portrayal of the client was even more valid for sculpture than in other branches of the fine arts, because its place was predominantly the public space.

Francesco Laurana created a special type of plastic portraits in the form of busts with his youthfully stylized portraits of women. It should not be overlooked that the level of the medal is seldom reached again . In 1439 Antonio Pisanello created the first post-ancient portrait medal. Luca della Robbia , a student of the important early Renaissance sculptor Nanni di Banco , created a pulpit for the Florentine Cathedral in competition with Donatello (1435), but since 1439 has mainly devoted himself to the increasingly extensive production of glazed terracotta reliefs.


While the sustained innovations of the High Renaissance still largely concentrated on Italy with the focal points of Florence and a little later Rome, other European art landscapes in France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany also took part in the subsequent transition phase , Mannerism . The importance of the ancient models declined. A periodization of mannerism must remain fuzzy; it is often referred to as “approx. 1530–1600 ”, but a significantly longer aftereffect has to be added in the north.

The beginnings are again in Florence. Baccio Bandinelli's group Hercules and Cacus (1534), set up in a prominent location, the piazza della Signoria , is still very much in the footsteps of Michelangelo. Bandinelli's competitor Benvenuto Cellini is more restless and virtuoso . His salt barrel made for the French king (1543), the famous Saliera , is a goldsmith's work, but it is also one of the great works of European sculpture. The bronze statue of Perseus (1553, Loggia dei Lanzi ) is considered to be his most perfect work. The following generation belonged to Giovanni da Bologna (Gianbologna). His Rape of the Sabine Women (1583, Loggia dei Lanzi) exemplarily illustrates a key concept for characterizing the Mannerist figure style, the figura serpentinata with its helically wound torsion . It is designed to offer the viewer constantly changing, compositionally interesting views when walking around. So sculpture should catch up in the old competition with painting.

A pupil of Gianbologna, Hubert Gerhard , worked as a bronze caster in southern Germany from 1581 . The Augustus Fountain (1594) was commissioned by the city of Augsburg , and for the first time reclining figures are posing here at a fountain north of the Alps. In Munich , Gerhard put himself in the service of the Counter Reformation and created the furnishings for the Michaelskirche here (around 1590). The symbolically charged dragon slayer on the facade shows the voluminous body of the archangel wrapped in a crumbling, crumbling robe that is not by chance reminiscent of the folds of the Catholic Middle Ages. The Tyrolean Hans Reichle , a student of Giovanni da Bologna and assistant to Hubert Gerhard enriched their style with moving pathos. His main works are in Augsburg: the Michaelsgruppe at the Augsburger Zeughaus (1607) and the crucifixion group in Ortisei (1605). His most important pupil was Georg Petel , who used suggestions from Italy, Flanders and the German late Gothic in his work (also in his small ivory works). Ludwig Münstermann's work offers an idiosyncratic northern German variant of Mannerism . In France, more precisely: in the vicinity of the Parisian court, Jean Goujon and Germain Pilon gave Mannerism their own stylization by covering the moving body with finely pleated robes that do not deny their origins in the linear work of Hellenistic models.


The high points of baroque sculpture fall in the 17th century. While the early part of the epoch is usually referred to under the term Mannerism, the term late baroque (from 1720) is not always clearly separated from that of the rococo . Absolutism and Counter-Reformation are important components for the origins of sculptures and, as a result, their iconography . Areas of responsibility are still portrait busts and memorials. The mausoleum , tomb and epitaph are enriched with architectural elements and further developed to the point of pompous exaggeration. Fountains are not only given dominant sculptural decorations, but - as can be observed in Baroque architecture at all - are even sculptured structures. Atlases and herms are new elements in mundane exterior construction, but also in furniture and small-scale architecture. Otherwise, building sculptures can also be used as the crowning of facades and balustrades , or accentuate bridges and stairways. In ecclesiastical decoration art, in addition to the altar sculpture, the rich sculptural decoration of pulpits, baptismal fonts and confessionals appears. In general, the three-dimensional picture decoration is more often integrated in cross-genre ensembles (“ total work of art ”): painterly and three-dimensional elements merge illusionistically and sculptures become part of architectural concepts. The garden design combines strict geometrically designed natural forms with casually moving free-standing sculptures.

The individual (almost without exception figurative) work of art with its variously composed body axes takes up space, not only in its material volume with the billowing garments, but also with its relational axes of movement and vision. This vivacity is often increased by the choice of a fleeting moment; understandable, therefore, that the moment of transformation of Daphne, who was pursued by Apollo, was a favorite motif of the baroque sculptors.

The historical starting point not only for Baroque sculpture is Rome, which has since replaced Florence as the source of money and ideas for the arts. Gian Lorenzo Bernini is the dominant force here. Although he seems to cross the boundaries of the sculptural block and creates moving compositions that are torn open on all sides, he rarely follows the principle of multiple views. His David (Bernini) is the only free-standing sculpture in his entire work! The climax of his art of expression is the rapture of St. Theresa . As if on a stage, under light falling dramatically from above, the theme of Theresa's mystical union with Christ is charged and staged by motifs of erotic rapture. In Bernini's equestrian statue of Louis XIV (1670), the decisive moment is chosen with the rearing horse. A look at François Girardon's design, however, shows the peculiarity of the French baroque style. The ideal of this main representative of French baroque sculpture was sublimity and classical austerity, trained in antiquity. At most, Pierre Puget still followed Bernini's stormy dynamism, while Antoine Coysevox, despite all the pathos, did not deviate from the representative statuary.

In this epoch Germany was initially weakened by the Thirty Years' War . In northern Germany, sculpture was dependent on models from Flanders. It was there, for example with Artus Quellinus II., Around the middle of the 17th century that Bernini's emotionality found its way. Andreas Schlueter in Berlin was also familiar with Dutch art. His equestrian monument, completed in 1700, combines this knowledge with suggestions from France and Italy.

The German south-west brings a wealth of sculptural commissions, also due to numerous newly built castles and Catholic churches. Balthasar Permoser came to Dresden in 1690 from Italy, where he had worked for many years, and from 1711 decorated the Dresden Zwinger by “transforming structural members into moving figures”. The generation of southern German sculptors born in the 1690s is moving from the late baroque to the rococo: the Asam brothers , who combine stucco and fresco in their church furnishings , Paul Egell with his subtle art of characterization and Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer , who furnishes southern German pilgrimage churches with secular saints and teasing putti. The Viennese Georg Raphael Donner pointed to classicism early on with his lead casts . A generation later, with Ignaz Günther , the main exponent of Bavarian Rococo, sculpture turned to color again for a few years.

Small sculptures are an indispensable part of Baroque sculpture. Inspired by the princely passion for collecting and presented together with natural objects and curiosities in the art and curiosity chambers , not only the scenic goldsmiths outstanding in their uniqueness, such as those in the Green Vault , but also an abundance of small carvings in hardwood and ivory , were created in which virtuoso craftsmanship is exhibited. In this context (from around 1730) the porcelain sculptures suitable for reproduction belong (above all by Johann Joachim Kändler and Franz Anton Bustelli ).

Classicism and Historicism

Even more often than before, in classicism, sculptors are commissioned to create monuments ; In the course of the 19th century there was an increasing flood of statues next to the grave memorial and the bust , which now occupy many squares, including those of the bourgeois cities, and no longer just represent princes, but also scholars and artists. Marble and bronze are the preferred materials.

The starting point for the development is again Rome, where Antonio Canova established himself as a leading sculptor with his large workshop from around 1780. His austere ascetic, sober tombs for Popes Clement XIV (1787) and Clemens XIII. (1792) document a programmatic break with the baroque taste in style. The feeling of the sublime should be conveyed here. Technical perfection and rigid poses appear to modern authors to be too smooth, cool and characterized by empty sentimentality. Nevertheless, alongside Thorwaldsen, he is the most influential Italian sculptor in the whole of ottocento . The Protestant Dane Bertel Thorwaldsen spent his entire artistic life in Rome. His model was also the art of antiquity, but less so than with its predecessors that of Hellenism , but rather the high-class sculpture, for example that of the Parthenon frieze that had recently become known . The large scenic relief of the Alexander Frieze by Thorwaldsen reflects this new knowledge of antiquity. His sculptural decoration for the Frauenkirche in Copenhagen is "the most important example of the uniform furnishing of a Protestant sacred building from the 19th century".

France's most notable contribution to the sculpture of classicism is portraiture, which is brought to its climax in the portrait bust . It begins with Jean-Antoine Houdon . Pierre Jean David d'Angers stands out with his realistic, vividly modeled busts and portrait reliefs from the sculptors of the Restoration period and the July monarchy , who mostly remained caught up in academic and classical routine . The sculptural sketches by Honoré Daumier , who is primarily known as a graphic artist, are astoundingly modern . His busts of deputies and the statuette of the Ratapoil are almost modeled caricatures .

The Englishman John Flaxman was one of the early classicists who were important for sculpture . He became famous for his outline drawings, which, implemented in reliefs, found European distribution on the dishes of the Wedgwood earthenware manufacturer .

A stay in Rome was an integral part of the biography of German sculptors of the 19th century. Johann Heinrich Dannecker from Stuttgart learned about Canova's influence there . To this day, his Schiller bust determines our image of the poet's physiognomy . The Berlin Gottfried Schadow enriched the classicistic rigor with ingenious inventions of images and sensitive expression. The group of the Prussian princesses Luise and Friederike (1797) is rightly one of the most popular sculptures in German art. Schadow's student Christian Daniel Rauch was impressed by Thorwaldsen in Rome. His oeuvre , rich in busts and portrait statues, culminates in the dignified equestrian monument to Frederick the Great (1851), which does not have any “antique” disguise. The costume controversy about appropriate clothing for monuments had thus become obsolete - this, too, a sign of increasing realism in art.

Classicism was also a violently historicizing style, but the narrower technical term historicism essentially refers to phenomena from the second half of the 19th century up to the First World War. The neo-Gothic , beginning with the building sculpture (from 1843) of the continued construction of Cologne Cathedral , concentrated, in addition to the building sculpture, on the mass production of new and the renovation of older carved altars . In the case of monuments, historicism expressed itself above all in the faithful reproduction of the clothing in terms of the history of the costume. A building boom that began after 1871 revived the use of plastic elements on German secular buildings, often in the neo-renaissance style . In France, "the neo-baroque even became a kind of national goal with the evocation of the old regime ." At the end of the century culminates a juxtaposition of styles including Romanesque Revival (religious art, monumental monuments), Neorokoko (interior cabaret, porcelain plastic) and, often high artistic level, neoclassicism with effects well into the 20th century.

and sculptor of historicism

Trivial art

In the last third of the 19th century - apart from high art - previously unknown quantities of sculptures were produced: Since then, monuments initiated by patriotic patriotic art policies have populated squares and parks, figurative architectural decorations covered the facades, galvanoplastic angels mourned in city cemeteries and porcelain figures belonged the obligatory decoration of bourgeois living rooms. Their stylistic appearance was mostly characterized by a neo-baroque colored naturalism , motifs a tendency to detailed realism, to pleasing, genre-like narration and to anecdotal banality can be observed. A previously unknown characteristic is the industrial, serial producibility (e.g. in electroplating and building plastics).

Forerunner of modernity

As a counter-idea to this appropriation by commissioned art and decorative purposes, the idea of ​​the autonomous work of art emerged, which should be no more than itself, at best the object of admiration and reflection by connoisseurs who cultivated such considerations in museums and private collections. Sculptors realized this view with different approaches. Rodin, for example, stands for expressive movement and the sketchy visualization of psychological conditions, while others, with stylizing recourse to classical rigor and tectonics , anticipate sculptural problems of form that led to abstraction and should be answered there in a much more radical way. Compared to painting at the same time, sculpture in the late 19th century shows a not always continuous development of its self-imposed tasks and aesthetic ideals. As a constant, however, the human figure remained almost the only subject of sculpture until the birth of abstraction.

The most exposed representative of forward-looking positions in the 1880s is Auguste Rodin (1840–1917). Inspired by Michelangelo and the French Gothic, he abandoned the rigid regularity taught at the academies and the classical canon of forms. The citizens of Calais (1884–1886) are a textbook example of the abandonment of traditional memorial formulas (pedestal, pathos). The heroic transfiguration is replaced by the dignity of extremely individualized figures who nonetheless form an indissoluble group through eloquent gestures and phrases. The history of the origins of Hell's Gate is a vivid example of the path from commissioned work to autonomous creation . An assignment of Rodin to Impressionism is assessed differently. In any case, the shimmering, sketchy surface treatment is used by him (unlike in painting) as an intentional vehicle of expression. The deliberately “unfinished”, unsmoothed exterior corresponds to the fact that Rodin consciously chose the torso as a formal theme for the first time in European sculpture . For the Belgian sculptor Constantin Meunier (1831–1905), the working person becomes the theme. His heroes are not intended as a social accusation, but rather are realistically depicted symbolic figures; they stand for the dignity of the active, creative people of his time without false heroization.

Even Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), some 20 years younger than Rodin, representing over this the ideal of harmonious stylized, firmly established plastic forms. "To have seen the tectonics of the organic again is his great artistic achievement".

The 20th century


While Rodin revolutionized sculpture in France, Adolf von Hildebrand (1847–1921) , the most important sculptor in Germany, represented the classic ideal of clearly defined, calm and firmly built form in his works and writings. In the elongated figures of Wilhelm Lehmbruck (1881–1919), the will to express and everything individual takes a back seat to the goal of the tectonically based form, while Ernst Barlach (1870–1938) stylizes people with their activities and emotions by reducing them to simple forms Wrapping in a “cloak figure” deliberately dispenses with individualization and gives them general validity. Bernhard Hoetger (1874–1949), on the other hand, is more versatile. He had met Rodin and Maillol and processed Egyptian, Gothic and East Asian suggestions. The wooden sculptures by the painters Erich Heckel (1883–1970) and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) are even closer to what is commonly understood as expressionism . As with the painter-sculptor Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), her idol-like figures clearly refer to the sculptures of primitive peoples . Shortly after the First World War, Ewald Mataré (1887–1965) and Gerhard Marcks (1889–1981) went public, but remained extremely productive until the 1960s. Both have also emerged as animal sculptors. While the elder remained rooted in the block-like and ornamental, tried to bring cube and surface into unity, Marcks, following a very German tradition, worked primarily on early Classical nude figures. Both were chased from their teaching posts in 1933 . By Georg Kolbe (1877-1947), who understood it better to adapt, especially his early works are valued for their lightness and musicality. After 1933 he produced “athletic figures fighting in tiring repetition and amazon-like women, ... muscular leader animals.” Josef Thorak and Arno Breker came even closer to the racial ideal of the Nazi art ideologists with their violent muscular limbs.

Cubism and Abstraction in France

→ Main article Cubist sculpture
The inspiration for a new development came from painting. Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) created the woman's head “Fernande” from 1907–1909; with its faceted surface, it is considered the first Cubist sculpture. The following works of “analytical cubism” clearly go beyond this early phase of “analytical cubism”. Their overcoming of perspective rules, the insertion of compositionally equivalent empty spaces, the combination of different materials and, above all, the reduction of all forms to basic geometric elements broke with the past on a lasting basis. One of the main representatives is Alexander Archipenko (1887–1964), who was born in Kiev, received his artistic stamping in Paris, had his most important creative period there around 1912–1915 and went to the USA in 1923. “The emptiness is just as visible in his works as the matter.” The Parisian Henry Laurens (1885–1954) followed Cubist principles until the mid-1920s, when his female figures became more supple, plump and sensual. With this path and his following definition of the essential problems of sculpture, Laurens is a protagonist of the development of sculptural goals between the two world wars: "... the taking possession of space, the construction of an object by means of cavities and volumes, by means of abundance and emptiness, their alternation and contrast, their constant mutual tension and - ultimately - their equilibrium. ”With Jacques Lipchitz (1891–1973) the figurative in his stacked blocks is only the starting point, not the goal of the pictorial work. From 1913 (Picasso: Stilleben, Tate Gallery) the first assemblages were made from different materials and objects. With his dynamic, machine-like structures, Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876–1918) approached the futurists who sought to depict speed and movement. In Italy, Umberto Boccioni (1882–1916) implemented their ideas even more consistently in his few sculptures in the three-dimensionality of bronze sculpture and also wrote a theory of futuristic sculpture. Even if Cubism in the narrower sense was exhausted around 1920, its radical significance for the following development (abstraction, Dada, minimal art) is extremely important. If the viewer of cubist sculptures often associates technical, mechanical associations, the sleek structures made of smoothed marble by Constantin Brancusi (1876–1957) as well as the mollusc-shaped “ concretions ” by Hans Arp (1887–1966) consistently have properties of the Organic at.

International sculpture in the 20th century

Constructivism , which traced all form back to basic geometric elements, broke away completely from the representational . It was created from 1913 to 1923 in Russia, where in a circle around Vladimir Tatlin , the brothers (1885-1953) Naum Gabo (1890-1977) and Antoine Pevsner (1884-1962) in the "Realist Manifesto" in 1920 by the artist, the creation of new realities required has been. In the Netherlands, these ideas of object-inventing sculpture came to fruition in the De Stijl movement by Georges Vantongerloo (1886–1965) and in the Bauhaus by László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946). The history of kinetic sculpture began with the constructivists.
→ Main article Kinetic Art .
Alexander Calder (1898–1976), an American who took decisive inspiration from 1926–1933 in Paris, has been using the mobiles since 1930 to create cheerful formal games that move in a breeze and a generation later, from 1950 onwards, Jean Tinguely (1925– 1991) move his bizarre machines by motors.

Another line of development, which diverged even more consistently from the traditional content and tasks of art, started with the ready-mades (1913ff.) Of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and the objets trouvées of the Dadaists ( Hans Arp , Max Ernst ) (1891 –1976). Here, found objects and materials are used and the distance between the work of art and the commodity is eliminated. Conceptual art and object art were able to pick up on here again in the 1960s, after turning away from informal art .

The decades before and after the Second World War were by no means exclusively determined by the path to abstraction. The figurative sculpture lived on, in the fascist and Soviet dictatorships as the exclusive option , in the other countries, however, it often gave up the orientation towards statuary traditions. In the rich work of Henry Moore (1898–1986) the whole range of artistic choices between closeness to nature and abstraction is shown in these years. His preferred subject is the recumbent figure, which corresponds to his interest in the landscape, as it were he models the surface of his body. The structures of his sculptures are inspired by natural formations such as shells, stones, plants with their cavities and spaces. They are always meaningfully charged, never pure form experiment. This most important sculptor in his country can hardly be classified in an English sculptural tradition. Without direct contact with the Paris scene, however, he was influenced by Brancusi, Archipenko and Picasso, and at times also influenced by Surrealism.

The Italian Marino Marini (1901–1980) found his artistic path in Paris in 1928. His well-known equestrian portrayals appear rough and battered like sketches and, using this archaic motif, express the state of consciousness of his time between uncertainty and rebellion. The same age Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) also came to Paris from Geneva in 1922. His theme is also existential forlornness. After surrealist beginnings, he found his obsessively repeated motifs in the 1940s: the emaciated, extremely elongated, crusty-coated figures, some of which are spatially grouped without any relation to one another, others are reduced to torso-like legs and feet.

The 1950s are internationally determined by the varieties of abstract art. In addition to stone and bronze, steel is now a popular material for sculptors. Julio Gonzalez (1876–1942) became the posthumous stimulus for work on this material. Calder's mobiles were now becoming popular, and George Rickey's (1907–2002) steel needles moved in a similar way in the wind. An additional stylistic element of iron sculpture is the linearity created by rods and wires, through which movement in space is associated . Norbert Kricke (1922–1984), Hans Uhlmann (1900–1975) and Vantongerloo belong to this direction. Others assume cut and bent sheets and plates, such as Richard Serra (born 1939) or Berto Lardera (1911–1981). Eduardo Chillida (1924–2002) created monumental signs from curved steel beams . In the 1950s, abstract art, with its center in Paris, was still the leading style in sculpture, but from around 1960 a counter-movement to this world of forms, which is exhausted in repetitions, developed. Developments in object art (e.g. the trap pictures , in which Daniel Spoerri (b. 1930) glued objects of a momentary randomness on a table top and hung them on the wall) and action art , for example, led to the development of the “ Nouveau Réalisme ” group . B. the happenings by Wolf Vostell (1932–1998), the politicizing actions of Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) new approaches to material and social reality. Beuys understood his performances and installations as “ social sculpture ” that included the actions and thoughts of the viewer.

At the same time, interest in American cultural phenomena grew in the 1960s. The world of everyday life, of consumption, of the media and entertainment industry came, under increasingly critical circumstances, into the focus of aesthetic reality perception. The environments of George Segal (1924–2000) and even more so the hyper-realistic scenarios by Edward Kienholz (1927–1994) and Duane Hanson (1925–1996) correspond to photorealism in painting . Claes Oldenburg (born 1929) ironically places monumentally enlarged everyday objects in urban spaces. Together with Robert Indiana (born 1928), who actually became extremely popular with his LOVE sculptures and pictures, he could also be attributed to Pop Art . Meanwhile occurs, again by the US starting, as a variety of abstract art, but unlike the spontaneous generation mode of the preceding abstract expressionism , the Minimal Art on. Donald Judd's simple cubes (1928–1994), Dan Flavin's (1933–1996) bare neon tubes , Sol LeWitt's (1928–2007) architectural lattice structures , Walter de Maria's (1935–1913) land art projects , im The curved steel plates by Richard Serra (born 1939) belong to this direction , which is essentially three-dimensional and is closely related to conceptual art . In Germany one could count Ulrich Rückriem (born 1938), whose approach is based on the materiality of the stone and a reference to the place of installation.

The years around 1968 were a time of political reorientation; it also gave artistic tendencies a new direction. The serial form of production of multiples can be seen as a plastic equivalent to printing technology forms of reproduction, thus meeting demands for a democratization of art. The aura of the individual work of art was given up here. The process of creation took the place of the completed work result. Artistic idea and craftsmanship separate. Some works only have a conceptual character ; they can then no longer be clearly assigned to the categories of text, sculpture, graphics or painting. If the development of sculpture seemed to have reached an end here once again, it is clear that artistic innovations arise from all radical positions. The light installations by James Turrell (born 1943), which play with the sensual perception of immaterial spaces and volumes, are just one example of this .

World art

In the non-European cultures (with the exception of the Far Eastern), sculpture often has a significantly more leading role than in Europe with its equivalence of painterly forms of expression. In order to avoid redundancies, it is therefore appropriate to leave it here (below under “See also”) with references to the articles devoted to the respective visual arts as a whole. In Far Eastern art, on the other hand, sculpture has a comparatively low status, so that separate chapters appear unnecessary here for this reason.


Since this article is a far-reaching overview, all documents and references, insofar as they can be found in other, directly linked articles, are not listed again.

  1. Lexicon of Art. Vol. 5. Seemann, Leipzig 1993, p. 633 ff.
  2. German encyclopedias consistently choose one of the lemmas of sculpture or sculpture for a main article relating to the content dealt with here, mention the other terms (e.g. sculpture ) there as synonyms and are content with references under the other key words.
  3. Since the late 18th century ( see German dictionary of the Brothers Grimm ).
  4. ^ Nicholas Penny: History of Sculpture: Material, Tools, Technology. Seemann, Leipzig 1995.
  5. ^ Dürre, Lexikon der Skulptur, p. 365, 442, 139.
  6. ^ Dürre: Lexicon of Sculpture , p. 410 f.
  7. On the concept of high culture see DIE ZEIT world and cultural history. Vol. 1. Hamburg 2006, pp. 247-260.
  8. ^ Dürre: Lexikon der Skulptur , pp. 14-17.
  9. ^ Gisela MA Richter: Handbook of Greek Art. Phaidon, Cologne 1966, pp. 72-112.
  10. ^ Gisela MA Richter: Handbook of Greek Art. Phaidon, Cologne 1966, p. 113 ff.
  11. ^ Gisela MA Richter: Handbook of Greek Art. Phaidon, Cologne 1966, p. 200.
  12. ^ Paul Zanker: The Roman Art. Beck, Munich 2007.
  13. ^ Alfred Löhr: Carolingian and Ottonian art. In: Knowledge at a Glance - The Art. Herder, Freiburg 1972, pp. 555-559.
  14. Rupprecht, pp. 15-17
  15. Rupprecht, pp. 34–41
  16. ^ W. Sauerländer: The sculpture of the Middle Ages , pp. 92-109.
  17. Willibald Sauerländer: From Sens to Strasbourg: a contribution to the art-historical position of the Strasbourg transept sculptures. Berlin 1966.
  18. Willibald Sauerländer : The sculpture of the Middle Ages. Ullstein, Frankfurt / M. 1963, p. 134.
  19. ^ Eva Zimmermann: Niclaus Gerhaert (s) von Leiden. In: Late Gothic on the Upper Rhine. Exhibition catalog Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe 1970, p. 90.
  20. ^ Eva Zimmermann: To the problem of the master of the Dangolsheimer Madonna. In: Late Gothic on the Upper Rhine. Exhibition catalog Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe 1970, p. 85 ff.
  21. For the history of the origins of the carved altarpieces see Norbert Wolf: Deutsche Schnitzaltär des 14th Century . Berlin 2002.
  22. ^ W. Sauerländer: The sculpture of the Middle Ages , p. 160.
  23. ^ W. Sauerländer: The sculpture of the Middle Ages , p. 161.
  24. Bust of Niccolo da Uzzano .
  25. Wolfgang Stechow : Apollo and Daphne. In: Studies of the Warburg Library. Volume 23, Leipzig 1932. - Iconographic list of works in: Andor Pigler: Barockthemen : A selection of directories on iconography of the 17th and 18th centuries. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 1956, reprint: Budapest 1975, vol. 2, pp. 27-29.
  26. ^ André Chastel : The art of Italy. Vol. 2. Darmstadt 1962, p. 160.
  27. ^ André Chastel: The art of Italy. Vol. 2. Darmstadt 1962, p. 160 f.
  28. ^ François Girardon, Small bronze model for an equestrian statue of Louis XIV, Paris, Louvre.
  29. See the detailed article Artus Quellinus II in the English Wikipedia.
  30. ^ Heinz Ladendorf : Andreas Schlueter. The equestrian monument for the Great Elector. (= Reclam's work monographs. Reclam, Stuttgart 1961).
  31. Siegfried Asche: Comments on Permoser's work. In: Baroque sculpture in Northern Germany. Exhibition catalog Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg 1977, pp. 183–196, here 188.
  32. Lexicon of Art. Vol. 1. Leipzig 1968, p. 407; Klaus Lankheit : Art of the World - Revolution and Restoration. Baden-Baden 1965, p. 80; Wolfgang Stadler: Sculpture. From the beginning to the present , p. 166.
  33. ^ Klaus Lankheit: Art of the World - Revolution and Restoration. Baden-Baden 1965, p. 96.
  34. Ratapoil = the hated among Republicans type of agitator for Louis Napoleon.
  35. The section on sculpture by France up to this point largely follows the presentation by Klaus Lankheit: Art of the World - Revolution and Restoration. Baden-Baden 1965, pp. 84-86.
  36. Werner Gramberg : JG Schadow, The group of princesses. (= Reclam's work monographs. ) Stuttgart 1961.
  37. Costume dispute : the dispute in contemporary journalism about the question of whether an ancient, “timeless” or a contemporary costume is more appropriate for monuments to rulers and poets.
  38. ^ Stefan Dürre: Seemanns Lexikon der Skulptur , pp. 188–191, which the passages of this paragraph largely follow.
  39. Seemanns Lexikon der Skulptur, p. 200 characterizes Rodin so, Hofmann, p. 44 substantiates a contrary view.
  40. Seemanns Lexikon der Skulptur, p. 430 f.
  41. Hoffmann, p. 52
  42. Hofmann, p. 73
  43. Seemanns Lexikon der Skulptur, p. 289
  44. Image for "Fernande"
  45. ( Ivan Goll ), quoted from: Lexikon der moderne Plastik , Munich: Knaur 1964, p. 16
  46. Umberto Boccioni: Technical Manifesto of Futuristic Sculpture , 1912
  47. Duchamp explained the difference as follows: “My readymades have nothing to do with the object trouvé , because the so-called found object is completely guided by personal taste” . (quoted from Thiele, p. 123)


For theoretical writings by individual sculptors, see the references to the articles on Adolf von Hildebrand , Gustav Seitz , Max Bill , Karl Albiker , Henry Moore and others.


  • Richard Hamann : The essence of the plastic (essays on aesthetics, vol. 2), Marburg 1948.
  • Werner Hofmann: The sculpture of the 20th century . Frankfurt 1958.
  • Kurt Badt : Essence of Plastic , Cologne 1963.
  • Fritz Baumgart: History of Occidental Sculpture , Cologne 1960.
  • Stefan Dürre: Seemanns Lexicon of Sculpture. Seemann, Leipzig 2007.
  • Rolf H. Johannsen: 50 classics: sculptures. From antiquity to the 19th century. Gerstenberg, Hildesheim 2005.
  • Carmela Thiele: Crash course sculpture. DuMont, Cologne 1995 and later ed.
  • Norbert Wolf : Masterpieces of Sculpture. Reclam, Stuttgart 2007.
  • Nicholas Penny : History of Sculpture: Material, Tools, Technology. Seemann, Leipzig 1995.
  • Wolfgang Stadler: Sculpture. From the beginning to the present. Müller, Erlangen 1996.
  • Article plastic. In: Lexicon of Art. Vol. 5. Seemann, Leipzig 1973, pp. 633-642.
  • Article sculpture. In: Lexicon of Art in 12 volumes. Müller, Erlangen 1994, pp. 154-171.
  • Gina Pischel: Great World History of Sculpture . Munich 1982.

Non-European cultures

Prehistory and early history

  • Werner Broer u. a. (Greeted by Otto Kammerlohr): Epochs of Art , Vol. 1: From the beginnings to Byzantine art. Munich / Vienna 1998 (textbook, also on non-European cultures)


middle Ages

in alphabetical order by authors / editors

  • Michael Baxandall : The art of the carver: Tilman Riemenschneider, Veit Stoss and their contemporaries . Publishing house CH Beck, Munich 1996.
  • Uwe Geese: Medieval sculpture in Germany, Austria and Switzerland . Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2007.
  • Norbert Jopek: Studies on German alabaster sculpture of the 15th century (= manuscripts for art history in the Werner publishing company 17). Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, Worms 1988, ISBN 978-3-88462-916-1
  • Bernhard Rupprecht: Romanesque sculpture in France . Hirmer Verlag, Munich 1975.
  • Willibald Sauerländer : The Sculpture of the Middle Ages (= Ullstein Art History 11). Ullstein Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1963.
  • Norbert Schneider: History of medieval sculpture. From antiquity to the late Gothic . Deubner-Verlag, Cologne 2004.

Modern times

  • Olav Larsson: Equally beautiful from all sides. Studies on the concept of multiple views in European sculpture from the Renaissance to Classicism. Uppsala 1974
  • Michael Knuth: Sculptures of the Italian Early Renaissance . Berlin 1982.
  • Herbert A. Stützner: The Italian Renaissance , Cologne 1977.
  • Bernhard Maaz: Sculpture in Germany between the French Revolution and the First World War . 2 volumes, Munich 2010.


  • Peter H. Feist : Figure & Object. Plastic in the 20th Century - An Introduction and 200 Biographies. Seemann, Leipzig 1996.
  • Margit Rowell (Ed.): Sculpture in the 20th Century: Figure - Space Construction - Process. Prestel, Munich 1986.
  • Werner Hofmann: The sculpture of the 20th century, Fischer, Frankfurt 1958.
  • Stephanie Barron: Sculpture of Expressionism , Munich 1984.
  • Abraham Marie Hammacher: Die Plastik der Moderne , Frankfurt-Berlin 1988
  • Andreas Franzke: Sculptures and objects by 20th century painters , Cologne 1982.

See also

World art

For sculpture from non-European countries, see the following articles and subsections, some of which have their own sections on sculpture.

also the country articles listed in the category lists Category: Art by State and Category: Sculpture by State .

Sculpting groups

Material and technology

Formal categories of pictorial works

Functional categories of sculptures

Collections of sculptures (types)

Museums and exhibitions of sculptures

Web links

Commons : collections of pictures on the history of plastic  , sorted by epoch - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Sculpture  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations