10 Most Famous Sculptors And Their Greatest Masterpieces


Sculpture is three dimensional art which was originally created by carving and modeling materials such as stone, metal, ceramics and wood. However, since the rise of Modernism in late 19th century, artists have used a wide variety of processes and materials to create sculptures. The earliest sculptor on our list is Donatello, who was born in the 14th century. He and Michelangelo are the two most renowned sculptors of the Renaissance, a period from late 14th to 17th century in which artists tried to revive and imitate ancient Greco-Roman art. The Renaissance was followed by the Baroque period whose towering figure was undoubtedly Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The 19th century saw the rise of the Modernism movement in art which was marked by a deliberate departure from tradition and use of innovative forms of expression. The leading sculptors of the modernist movement include Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore. The latest sculptor on our list is Fernando Botero, who is among the most influential living artists in the world. Here are the 10 most famous sculptors and their greatest masterpieces.


#10 Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero
Fernando Botero

Born: April 19, 1932

Nationality: Colombian

Fernando Botero’s father died when he was four and he grew up under the patronage of his uncle. In his youth, he attended a school for matadors. When he was 14, Botero took six of his bull paintings to a vendor’s shop and asked the vendor to sell them. When one of his paintings found a buyer, Botero realized that he could make a living as an artist. He soon quit bullfighting and started to concentrate on painting. His paintings were first exhibited at the age of 16 and, with time, he became one of the most successful and richest contemporary artists. In the 1960s, Botero developed his trademark style of depicting people and figures in large, exaggerated volume. His style is very distinct, unique and immediately apparent to the observer. Though only a part of Botero’s total oeuvre, sculptures are perhaps his most significant works and the ones that first brought him international fame. Fernando Botero is the most influential Latin American artist in the world and perhaps the best known living sculptor.

Masterpiece: The Trojan Horse (1992)

The Trojan Horse (1992)
The Trojan Horse (1992) – Fernando Botero

Other Famous Sculptures:-

The Raval Cat (1987)

Woman Smoking a Cigarette (1987)

#9 Constantin Brâncuși

Constantin Brancusi
Constantin Brancusi

Lifespan: February 19, 1876 – March 16, 1957

Nationality: Romanian

Born in a family of poor peasants, Brancusi showed early talent for carving objects out of wood. An industrialist helped him enter the Craiova School of Arts and Crafts and he then enrolled in the Bucharest School of Fine Arts. In 1903, Brancusi traveled to Paris and it was here that he made his artistic career. He worked in the workshop of Auguste Rodin but left it after two months saying, “Nothing can grow under big trees”. After leaving Rodin’s workshop, he began developing the revolutionary style for which he is known. Brancusi aimed to depict in his sculpture “not the outer form but the idea, the essence of things”. Though his art is regarded as abstract by many, he insisted that it was representational and disclosed a fundamental, often concealed, reality. Constantin Brancusi is regarded as a pioneer of modernism, an influential movement marked by a deliberate departure from tradition. He was one of the most influential 20th-century sculptors and is called the patriarch of modern sculpture.

Masterpiece: Bird in Space (1923)

Bird in Space (1923)
Bird in Space (1923) – Constantin Brancusi

Other Famous Sculptures:-

The Kiss (1908)

The Endless Column (1938)

#8 Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder
Alexander Calder

Lifespan: July 22, 1898 – November 11, 1976

Nationality: American

One of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century and perhaps the most acclaimed abstract sculptor, Alexander Calder is famous for his invention of the mobile, an abstract sculpture that moves in response to touch or air currents by taking advantage of the principle of equilibrium. In addition to mobiles, Calder made static sculpture called stabiles, wire sculptures, toys, theatrical sets, paintings in oil and gouache, and even jewelry and numerous household objects. Calder also created monumental sculptures including .125 for JFK Airport in New York City in 1957, Spirale for UNESCO in Paris the following year and his largest sculpture El Sol Rojo in 1968 outside the Aztec Stadium for the New Mexico Summer Olympic Games. Two months after his death in November 1976, Alexander Calder was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Masterpiece: Calder’s Circus (1926 – 1931)

Calder's Circus (1931)
Calder’s Circus (1931) – Alexander Calder

Other Famous Sculptures:-

Flamingo (1974)

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail (1939)

#7 Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso

Lifespan: October 25, 1881 – April 8, 1973

Nationality: Spanish

Pablo Picasso is widely regarded as the most influential artist of the 20th century. Among other things, he co-pioneered the art movement Cubism, in which artists depicted the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to give it greater context. Unlike painting in which he was formally trained, sculpture occupied an experimental status for Picasso. He approached the medium with the freedom of a self-taught artist, ready to break all the rules. Picasso’s first sculpture dates back to 1901. In the period 1910 to 1914, he produced Cubist sculptures and he then didn’t produce any works in the medium for more than a decade. In the late 1920s, he experimented with structures made of wire and then transferred these surrealistic compositions to sculpture. In the following decades, Picasso used waste and debris to make sculptures, which he then cast in bronze. In the last stage of his career, he produced colored sculptures of sheet metal. Considered by many as the greatest painter of all time, Pablo Picasso is also a renowned sculptor whose works in the medium continue to be widely known.

Masterpiece: Chicago Picasso (1967)

Chicago Picasso (1967)
Chicago Picasso (1967) – Pablo Picasso

Other Famous Sculptures:-

Guitar (1914)

Head of a Woman (1934)

#6 Henry Moore

Henry Moore
Henry Moore

Lifespan: July 30, 1898 – August 31, 1986

Nationality: English

Modernism was an art movement characterized by deliberate departure from tradition and use of innovative forms of expression. Henry Moore, along with his professional rival Barbara Hepworth, was a pioneer in the field of modern sculpture and he is considered among the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. While studying at the Leeds School of Art, Moore and Hepworth became friends and developed a friendly professional rivalry that would last for many years. The influence they exerted on each others work was not only important in the development of their careers but also instrumental in the rise of Modernism in the British art scene. Henry Moore is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art. His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure; and are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. Henry Moore was a worldwide celebrity by the 1940s and he exerted direct influence on several generations of sculptors.

Masterpiece: Reclining Figures (1930s–1980s)

Large Reclining Figure (1984)
Large Reclining Figure (1984) – Henry Moore

Other Famous Sculptures:-

King and Queen (1957)

Bird Basket (1939)

#5 Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti
Alberto Giacometti

Lifespan: October 10, 1901 – January 11, 1966

Nationality: Swiss

The remarkable artistic career of Alberto Giacometti may be divided into phases. His work in the 1930s represents probably the most important contribution to Surrealist sculpture. Surrealism was a movement which rejected rationalism and focused on channeling the unconscious mind to unveil the power of the imagination. The most striking Surrealist works of Giacometti resemble games, toys and architectural models which encourage the viewer to physically interact with them. In late 1930s, Giacometti abandoned Surrealism to pursue representing the human figure in a convincing illusion of real space. However, it was after the Second World War that he created his most famous sculptures. These extremely tall and slender figurines powerfully capture the tone of melancholy, alienation and loneliness expressed in philosophies like Existentialism. Alberto Giacometti was a highly influential artist who is perhaps the most important sculptor of the 20th century.

Masterpiece: The Walking Man I (1961)

The Walking Man I (1961)
The Walking Man I (1961) – Alberto Giacometti

Other Famous Sculptures:-

Pointing Man (1947)

Woman with Her Throat Cut (1932)

#4 Donatello


Lifespan: 1386 – December 13, 1466

Nationality: Italian

Dated from the 14th to the 17th century, the Renaissance was a period in the history of Europe which was was marked by renewed interest in ancient Greco-Roman culture. Donatello, along with his friend, the famous architect Filippo Brunelleschi, took a trip to Rome and studied the ancient Roman ruins, an endeavor not attempted in such great detail till then. Donatello and Brunelleschi went on to exert a great and profound influence on Renaissance art and architecture. Donatello gave a different direction to Western sculpture taking it away from the prevalent Gothic style, which was marked by softly curved lines and an expressionless face, to the Classical style with dramatic expressions and detailed realism. He also pioneered several artistic techniques which would have a profound and immense influence on later generations of Renaissance artists. Donatello was the leading sculptor of the early Renaissance and he created some of the most renowned sculptures in the world including the Bronze David and the Equestrian statue of Gattamelata.

Masterpiece: The Bronze David (1440s)

David (1440s) - Donatello
The Bronze David (1440s) – Donatello

Other Famous Sculptures:-

Equestrian statue of Gattamelata (1453)

Penitent Magdalene (1455)

#3 Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Lifespan: December 7, 1598 – November 28, 1680

Nationality: Italian

The Baroque was a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, art and music that flourished in Europe from early 17th to late 18th century. Baroque sculpture attempted to capture dynamic movement of human figures, was meant to be viewed from all angles and was displayed centrally, rather than against a wall. Gian Lorenzo Bernini is credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture and he developed it to such an extent that other artists are of only minor importance in a discussion of that style. Bernini was the definition of childhood genius. He was “recognized as a prodigy when he was only eight years old” and he soon earned the admiration and favor of powerful patrons who hailed him as “the Michelangelo of his century”. He went on to have a long and illustrious career producing some of the best known sculptures ever created. Bernini was the leading and most renowned sculptor of his age. According to one scholar: “What Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture”.

Masterpiece: Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1652)

Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1652)
Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1652) – Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Other Famous Sculptures:-

David (1624)

Apollo and Daphne (1625)

#2 Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin

Lifespan: November 12, 1840 – November 17, 1917

Nationality: French

Auguste Rodin turned away from the idealism of the Greeks and decorative beauty; thus departing from centuries old traditions in the field of sculpture. Instead, he modeled the human body with realism and suggested emotion through his mastery in inter-playing between light and shadow; and through detailed, textured surfaces. Some of his sculptures were so realistic that he was accused of surmoulage, that is having taken a cast from a living model. Due to his departure from the predominant sculpture traditions, many of Rodin’s most notable sculptures were criticized during his lifetime. However he refused to change his style and, with time, he was compared to Michelangelo and was widely recognized as the greatest artist of the era. Auguste Rodin was a towering figure in the field of sculpture who exerted a deep and profound influence on future generation of artists. He is widely considered the father of modern sculpture and his work The Thinker is one of the most famous sculptures ever created.

Masterpiece: The Thinker (1902)

The Thinker (1902)
The Thinker (1902) – Auguste Rodin

Other Famous Sculptures:-

The Kiss (1889)

The Hand of God (1907)

#1 Michelangelo


Lifespan: March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564

Nationality: Italian

The High Renaissance is a term used to denote the apex of the visual arts in the Renaissance. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, along with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, forms the trinity of great masters of the High Renaissance. He was a “Renaissance man” or “Universal Genius” who excelled in various fields including painting, architecture, poetry and engineering. However, above all, he is widely regarded as the greatest sculptor of all time. In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino (“the divine one”). After his death, subsequent artists tried to imitate his impassioned, highly personal style resulting in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art. Michelangelo is perhaps the most influential figure in the history of western art whose works in painting, sculpture and architecture exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of art in the west. In sculpture, his best-known works are the Pieta and David, which rank among the most renowned artworks ever created.

Masterpiece: David (1504)

David - Michelangelo
David (1504) – Michelangelo

Other Famous Sculptures:-

Pietà (1499)

Moses (1515)

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