Sculpture is a type of artwork that's two- or three-dimensional, so you can see it from different sides. You can make sculpture from clay, marble, wood, and even mashed potatoes, though the potato kind might not make it into an art museum.

From the Latin sculpere "to carve," sculpture often is carved out of a block of wood, stone, or other material. Statues and outdoor artworks are one type of sculpture, and they are freestanding — you can walk around them, under them, or even over them. Other types are carved into walls, with the figures or objects sticking out from a flat surface. Artists called sculptors use soft materials, metal, and even ice and common objects like cars and cans to make sculpture.

Definitions of sculpture

n a three-dimensional work of plastic art

Colossus of Rhodes
a huge bronze statue of the sun god Helios that was built around 285 BC and that stood beside the harbor entrance on the island of Rhodes for about 50 years before it was toppled by an earthquake
Statue of Liberty
a large monumental statue symbolizing liberty on Liberty Island in New York Bay
show 22 types...
hide 22 types...
a sculpture made of bronze
a sculpture of the head and shoulders of a person
a sculpture created by removing material (as wood or ivory or stone) in order to create a desired shape
a sculpture carved from marble
sculpture suspended in midair whose delicately balanced parts can be set in motion by air currents
clay sculpture, modeling, mold, molding, mould, moulding
sculpture produced by molding
embossment, relief, relievo, rilievo, sculptural relief
sculpture consisting of shapes carved on a surface so as to stand out from the surrounding background
a sculpture having fixed units (usually constructed of sheet metal) and attached to a fixed support
a sculpture representing a human or animal
alto relievo, alto rilievo, high relief
a sculptural relief in which forms extend out from the background to at least half their depth
bas relief, basso relievo, basso rilievo, low relief
a sculptural relief in which forms extend only slightly from the background; no figures are undercut
an ornamental carving consisting of five arcs arranged in a circle
glyptic art, glyptography
carvings or engravings (especially on precious stones)
a statue consisting of a squared stone pillar with a carved head (usually a bearded Hermes) on top; used in ancient Greece as a boundary marker or signpost
half-relief, mezzo-relievo, mezzo-rilievo
a sculptural relief between low relief and high relief
nude, nude sculpture, nude statue
a statue of a naked human figure
Olympian Zeus
a seated statue of the supreme god of ancient Greek mythology created for the temple at Olympia; the statue was 40 feet tall and rested on a base that was 12 feet high
a carving (or engraving) on whalebone, whale ivory, walrus tusk, etc., usually by American whalers
one of a number of large stone statues with the body of a lion and the head of a man that were built by the ancient Egyptians
term, terminal figure, terminus
(architecture) a statue or a human bust or an animal carved out of the top of a square pillar; originally used as a boundary marker in ancient Rome
a decoration consisting of wormlike carvings
a carving created by carving wood
Type of:
plastic art
the arts of shaping or modeling; carving and sculpture
solid figure, three-dimensional figure
a three-dimensional shape

n creating figures or designs in three dimensions

modeling, modelling, molding, moulding
a preliminary sculpture in wax or clay from which a finished work can be copied
Type of:
art, artistic creation, artistic production
the creation of beautiful or significant things
beaux arts, fine arts
the study and creation of visual works of art

v create by shaping stone or wood or any other hard material

grave, sculpt
shape (a material like stone or wood) by whittling away at it
Type of:
forge, form, mold, mould, shape, work
make something, usually for a specific function

v shape (a material like stone or wood) by whittling away at it

grave, sculpt
create by shaping stone or wood or any other hard material
Type of:
form by carving

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.