A statue is a free-standing sculpture in which the realistic, full-length figures of persons or animals or non-representational forms are carved or cast in a durable material such as wood, metal or stone. Typical statues are life-sized or close to life-size; a sculpture that represents persons or animals in full figure but that is small enough to lift and carry is a statuette or figurine, whilst one more than twice life-size is a colossal statue.
Statues have been produced in many cultures from prehistory to the present; the oldest-known statue dating to about 30,000 years ago. Statues represent many different people and animals, real and mythical. Many statues are placed in public places as public art. The world's tallest statue, Statue of Unity , is 182 metres (597 ft) tall and is located near the Narmada dam in Gujarat, India.
Ancient statues often show the bare surface of the material of which they are made. For example, many people associate Greek classical art with white marble sculpture, but there is evidence that many statues were painted in bright colors.Most of the color has weathered off over time; small remnants were removed during cleaning; in some cases small traces remained that could be identified. A travelling exhibition of 20 coloured replicas of Greek and Roman works, alongside 35 original statues and reliefs, was held in Europe and the United States in 2008: Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity. Details such as whether the paint was applied in one or two coats, how finely the pigments were ground or exactly which binding medium would have been used in each case—all elements that would affect the appearance of a finished piece—are not known. Richter goes so far as to say of classical Greek sculpture, "All stone sculpture, whether limestone or marble, was painted, either wholly or in part."
Medieval statues were also usually painted, with some still retaining their original pigments. The coloring of statues ceased during the Renaissance, since excavated classical sculptures, which had lost their coloring, became regarded as the best models.
The Venus of Berekhat Ram, an anthropomorphic pebble found in northern Israel and dated to at least 230,000 years before present, is claimed to be the oldest known statuette. However, researchers are divided as to whether its shape is derived from natural erosion or was carved by an early human.The Venus of Tan-Tan, a similar object of similar age found in Morocco, has also been claimed to be a statuette.
The Löwenmensch figurine and the Venus of Hohle Fels, both from Germany, are the oldest confirmed statuettes in the world, dating to 35,000-40,000 years ago.
The oldest known life-sized statue is Urfa Man found in Turkey which is dated to around 9,000 BC.
Throughout history, statues have been associated with cult images in many religious traditions, from Ancient Egypt, Ancient India, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome to the present. Egyptian statues showing kings as sphinxes have existed since the Old Kingdom, the oldest being for Djedefre (c. 2500 BC).The oldest statue of a striding pharaoh dates from the reign of Senwosret I (c. 1950 BC) and is the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. The Middle Kingdom of Egypt (starting around 2000 BC) witnessed the growth of block statues which then became the most popular form until the Ptolemaic period (c. 300 BC).
The focal point of the cella or main interior space of a Roman or Greek temple was a statue of the deity it was dedicated to. In major temples these could be several times life-size. Other statues of deities might have subordinate positions along the side walls.
The oldest statue of a deity in Rome was the bronze statue of Ceres in 485 BC.The oldest statue in Rome is now the statue of Diana on the Aventine.
For a successful Greek or Roman politician or businessman (who donated considerable sums to public projects for the honour), having a public statue, preferably in the local forum or the grounds of a temple was an important confirmation of status, and these sites filled up with statues on plinths (mostly smaller than those of their 19th century equivalents). Fragments in Rome of a bronze colossus of Constantine and the marble colossus of Constantine show the enormous scale of some imperial statues; other examples are recorded, notably one of Nero.
The wonders of the world include several statues from antiquity, with the Colossus of Rhodes and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
While sculpture generally flourished in European Medieval art, the single statue was not one of the most common types, except for figures of the Virgin Mary, usually with Child, and the corpus or body of Christ on crucifixes. Both of these appeared in all size up to life-size, and by the late Middle Ages many churches, even in villages, had a crucifixion group around a rood cross. The Gero Cross in Cologne is both one of the earliest and finest large figures of the crucified Christ. As yet, full-size standing statues of saints and rulers were uncommon, but tomb effigies, generally lying down, were very common for the wealthy from about the 14th century, having spread downwards from royal tombs in the centuries before.
While Byzantine art flourished in various forms, sculpture and statue making witnessed a general decline; although statues of emperors continued to appear.An example was the statue of Justinian (6th century) which stood in the square across from the Hagia Sophia until the fall of Constantinople in the 15th century. Part of the decline in statue making in the Byzantine period can be attributed to the mistrust the Church placed in the art form, given that it viewed sculpture in general as a method for making and worshiping idols. While making statues was not subject to a general ban, it was hardly encouraged in this period. Justinian was one of the last Emperors to have a full-size statue made, and secular statues of any size became virtually non-existent after iconoclasm; and the artistic skill for making statues was lost in the process.
Italian Renaissance art identified the standing statue as the key form of Roman art to survive, and there was a great revival of statues of both religious and secular figures, to which most of the leading figures contributed, led by Donatello and Michelangelo. The equestrian statue, a great technical challenge, was mastered again, and gradually statue groups.
These trends intensified in Baroque art, when every ruler wanted to have statues made of themself, and Catholic churches filled with crowds of statues of saints, although after the Protestant Reformation religious sculpture largely disappeared from Protestant churches, with some exceptions in large Lutheran German churches. In England, churches instead were filled with increasing elaborate tomb monuments, for which the ultimate models were continental extravagances such as the Papal tombs in Rome, those of the Doges of Venice, or the French royal family.
In the late 18th and 19th century there was a growth in public open air statues of public figures on plinths. As well as monarches, politicians, generals, landowners, and eventually artists and writers were commemorated. World War I saw the war memorial, previously uncommon, become very widespread, and these were often statues of generic soldiers.
Starting with the work of Maillol around 1900, the human figures embodied in statues began to move away from the various schools of realism that been followed for thousands of years. The Futurist and Cubist schools took this metamorphism even further until statues, often still nominally representing humans, had lost all but the most rudimentary relationship to the human form. By the 1920s and 1930s statues began to appear that were completely abstract in design and execution.
The notion that the position of the hooves of horses in equestrian statues indicated the rider's cause of death has been disproved.
Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, 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 moulded or cast.
Ancient art refers to the many types of art produced by the advanced cultures of ancient societies with some form of writing, such as those of ancient China, India, Mesopotamia, Persia, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The art of pre-literate societies is normally referred to as Prehistoric art and is not covered here. Although some Pre-Columbian cultures developed writing during the centuries before the arrival of Europeans, on grounds of dating these are covered at Pre-Columbian art, and articles such as Maya art and Aztec art. Olmec art is mentioned below.
The art of Europe, or Western art, encompasses the history of visual art in Europe. European prehistoric art started as mobile Upper Paleolithic rock and cave painting and petroglyph art and was characteristic of the period between the Paleolithic and the Iron Age. Written histories of European art often begin with the art of Ancient Israel and the Ancient Aegean civilizations, dating from the 3rd millennium BC. Parallel with these significant cultures, art of one form or another existed all over Europe, wherever there were people, leaving signs such as carvings, decorated artifacts and huge standing stones. However a consistent pattern of artistic development within Europe becomes clear only with the art of Ancient Greece, adopted and transformed by Rome and carried; with the Roman Empire, across much of Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.
A figurine or statuette is a small, three-dimensional sculpture that represents a human, deity or animal, or, in practice, a pair or small group of them. Figurines have been made in many media, with clay, metal, wood, glass, and today plastic or resin the most significant. Ceramic figurines not made of porcelain are called terracottas in historical contexts.
A Venus figurine is any Upper Palaeolithic statuette portraying a woman, usually carved in the round. Most have been unearthed in Europe, but others have been found as far away as Siberia, and distributed across much of Eurasia.
The Löwenmensch figurine or Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel is a prehistoric ivory sculpture discovered in the Hohlenstein-Stadel, a German cave in 1939. The German name, Löwenmensch, meaning "lion-human", is used most frequently because it was discovered and is exhibited in Germany.
The art of Ancient Rome, its Republic and later Empire includes architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work. Luxury objects in metal-work, gem engraving, ivory carvings, and glass are sometimes considered to be minor forms of Roman art, although they were not considered as such at the time. Sculpture was perhaps considered as the highest form of art by Romans, but figure painting was also highly regarded. A very large body of sculpture has survived from about the 1st century BC onward, though very little from before, but very little painting remains, and probably nothing that a contemporary would have considered to be of the highest quality.
The sculpture of ancient Greece is the main surviving type of fine ancient Greek art as, with the exception of painted ancient Greek pottery, almost no ancient Greek painting survives. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages in monumental sculpture in bronze and stone: the Archaic, Classical (480–323) and Hellenistic. At all periods there were great numbers of Greek terracotta figurines and small sculptures in metal and other materials.
The Capitoline Museums is a single museum containing a group of art and archaeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy. The historic seats of the museums are Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo in 1536 and executed over a period of more than 400 years. The history of the museum can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on the Capitoline Hill. Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include many ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; and collections of jewels, coins, and other items. The museums are owned and operated by the municipality of Rome.
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the greatest museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide. It is situated in the Exarcheia area in central Athens between Epirus Street, Bouboulinas Street and Tositsas Street while its entrance is on the Patission Street adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic university.
Classical sculpture refers generally to sculpture from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as the Hellenized and Romanized civilizations under their rule or influence, from about 500 BC to around 200 AD. It may also refer more precisely a period within Ancient Greek sculpture from around 500 BC to the onset of the Hellenistic style around 323 BC, in this case usually given a capital "C". The term "classical" is also widely used for a stylistic tendency in later sculpture, not restricted to works in a Neoclassical or classical style.
The study of Roman sculpture is complicated by its relation to Greek sculpture. Many examples of even the most famous Greek sculptures, such as the Apollo Belvedere and Barberini Faun, are known only from Roman Imperial or Hellenistic "copies". At one time, this imitation was taken by art historians as indicating a narrowness of the Roman artistic imagination, but, in the late 20th century, Roman art began to be reevaluated on its own terms: some impressions of the nature of Greek sculpture may in fact be based on Roman artistry.
The Art & History Museum is a public museum in Brussels, Belgium, which is one of the constituents of the Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH). It is located in the Cinquantenaire Park and was previously called the Cinquantenaire Museum. It is one of the largest museums in Europe.
The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is a municipal museum of fine arts in the French city of Lyon. Located near Place des Terreaux, it is housed in a former Benedictine convent which was active during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was restored between 1988 and 1998, remaining open to visitors throughout this time despite the restoration works. Its collections range from ancient Egyptian antiquities to the Modern art period, making the museum one of the most important in Europe. It also hosts important exhibitions of art, for example the exhibitions of works by Georges Braque and Henri Laurens in the second half of 2005, and another on the work of Théodore Géricault from April to July 2006. It is one of the largest art museums in France.
The Venus of Hohle Fels is an Upper Paleolithic Venus figurine made of mammoth ivory that was unearthed in 2008 in Hohle Fels, a cave near Schelklingen, Germany. It is dated to between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago, belonging to the early Aurignacian, at the very beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, which is associated with the earliest presence of Cro-Magnon in Europe.
The Hohle Fels is a cave in the Swabian Jura of Germany that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating from the Upper Paleolithic. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered. The cave is just outside the town of Schelklingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg, near Ulm. In 2017 the site became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura".
Ancient Greek art stands out among that of other ancient cultures for its development of naturalistic but idealized depictions of the human body, in which largely nude male figures were generally the focus of innovation. The rate of stylistic development between about 750 and 300 BC was remarkable by ancient standards, and in surviving works is best seen in sculpture. There were important innovations in painting, which have to be essentially reconstructed due to the lack of original survivals of quality, other than the distinct field of painted pottery.
The Urfa man, also known as the Balıklıgöl statue, is an ancient human shaped statue found in excavations in Balıklıgöl near Urfa, in the geographical area of Upper Mesopotamia, in the southeast of modern Turkey. It is dated circa 9000 BC to the period of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, and is considered as "the oldest naturalistic life-sized sculpture of a human". It is considered as contemporaneous with the sites of Göbekli Tepe and Nevalı Çori.
Tanagra is a polychromic marble sculpture created by French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) as a personification of the "spirit of Tanagra," his own mythic invention tied to the Tanagra figurines from the village of that name in ancient Greece. The sculpture was first shown at the Paris Salon of 1890. Gérôme subsequently created smaller, gilded bronze versions of Tanagra; several versions of the "Hoop Dancer" figurine held by Tanagra; two paintings of an imaginary ancient Tanagra workshop; and two self-portraits of himself sculpting Tanagra from a living model in his Paris atelier. These sculptures and paintings comprise a complex, self-referential artistic program in which one of the most celebrated artists of his generation explored reception of Classical antiquity, creative inspiration, doppelgängers, and female beauty.
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