Boundaries for dating

Sculpture in stone survives far better than works of art in perishable materials, and often represents the majority of the surviving works (other than pottery) from ancient cultures, though conversely traditions of sculpture in wood may have vanished almost entirely.However, most ancient sculpture was brightly painted, and this has been lost.The revival of classical models in the Renaissance produced famous sculptures such as Michelangelo's David.

Sculpture has been central in religious devotion in many cultures, and until recent centuries large sculptures, too expensive for private individuals to create, were usually an expression of religion or politics.Those cultures whose sculptures have survived in quantities include the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, India and China, as well as many in South America and Africa.Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process.A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded, or cast.A basic distinction is between sculpture in the round, free-standing sculpture, such as statues, not attached (except possibly at the base) to any other surface, and the various types of relief, which are at least partly attached to a background surface.

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Relief is often classified by the degree of projection from the wall into low or bas-relief, high relief, and sometimes an intermediate mid-relief.

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