Pablo Picasso once said that “sculpture is the art of the intelligence.” Indeed, sculpture has a long and storied history dating back to antiquity. In both Western and Eastern cultures, refined sculpture has been a hallmark of high culture. Whether using wood, stone, or metal, sculptors have achieved incredible results in three dimensions.
And while there are plenty of marvelous sculptures that have been created over time, some have become landmarks in art history. Whether that is due to their realism or their innovative use of materials, these sculptures have helped preserve the history of important cultures. From China’s Terracotta Warriors to Egypt’s Bust of Nefertiti, some of these famous sculptures are vital to our understanding of ancient culture. Others, like Michelangelo’s David or Rodin’s The Thinker, are emblems of their time and helped push the limits of sculpture.
Our timeline of 10 famous sculptures takes you from a pre-historic fertility idol to a contemporary public landmark. By catapulting across time, we’re able to see the development of Western art and how sculptors have been innovating at the highest level. If you want to learn even more about these sculptures—as well as a few others—check out our list of the most famous sculptures any art lover needs to know.