23 Famous and Unique Sculptures in Art

Have you ever wanted more out of art? Drawings and paintings limit what you can see to a two-dimensional art piece in front of you. However, a sculpture can offer you, the viewer, zero limits of visual satisfaction—a sculpture you can see and walk around the sculpture. 

With a sculpture, you get to experience the vast mass of giant sculptures of art. While most famous sculptures appear realistic with attention to detail, others are contemporary and inspire the viewer to interpret the sculpture. And others connect you will nature and create eerie mythical earth music. 

Are you ready to discover unique sculptures in art? Then, grab your travel itinerary and pen, and keep reading to discover your next sculpture to visit on your getaway art included. 

1. First Generation in Singapore

First Generation - Sculpture - Singapore

In 2000, Singaporean sculptor Chong Fah Cheong cast a series of life-size whimsical bronze sculptures of First Generation– 5 boys frolicking and jumping into the meandering Singapore River at the Open Air Interpretative Centre. The sculpture sits near the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore.

And at the height of significant industrial development on the waterfront, children jumped and played in the polluted river until the river clean-up Clean Water projects removed rubbish from the river. 

The sculpture represents a moment in the pastime when the Singapore River was a family swimming pool that families enjoyed. And it’s obvious when you see the sculpture– each boy walks you through the phases and joy of jumping in the river. 

First, you watch the river with eager excitement to take a jump. Second, you sit at the edge, arms up-smile wild. Third, your friend pushes you to follow the next body about to splash in the water. And last, your friend laughs at the thrill of an unexpected splash– reeking with fun. 

2. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in Rome, Italy

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in Rome, Italy

Hailed in the center of Cornaro Chapel, the 1652 white-marbled Baroque sculpture describes the essential celestial experience of a nun other than Saint Teresa of Jesus. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is a masterpiece that lends to a swirling illusion of heavenly motion.

So how did sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s spiritual devotion and extreme attention to detail create wood carving patterns of swirling draperies and sultry emotions? 

Saint Teresa, also known as Teresa of Avila’s written texts, recalls an angel with a fire-blazing spear penetrating her heart into suffering-induced spiritual ecstasy. 

As an artist, Bernini holds St. Teresa’s heart hostage on a bed of clouds by the edge of a cupid golden-tipped spear. However, the sculpture is a centerpiece among other paintings and many sculptures designed by Bernini. 

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is a life-size sculpture of marble, stucco, and gilt bronze that stands 11 feet 6 inches tall. 

3. Bridge Over Tree in Brooklyn, New York

Bridge Over Tree - Brooklyn, NY

The Public Art Fund recreated Iranian Minneapolis-based artist Siah Armajani’s bridge sculpture named “Bridge Over Tree” with the original construction and materials, such as time trusses and shingle roofs from the early American bridge designs. 

The bridge is a poetic and political idea of the 91-feet-long walkway and features a set of climb-up stairs placed above an evergreen tree to crossover and a shingled roof on the Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn. 

The installation encourages strangers to interact and connect as they cross over the evergreen tree and around the bridge. 

4. Digital Orca in Vancouver, Canada

Digital Orca - Sculpture - Vancouver

In 2009, Douglas Coupland blended a cubed black and white powder-coated aluminum sculpture and a stainless steel armature to create the pixelated Digital Orca sculpture at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, in protest of logging an old-growth forest in BC. 

The sculpture stands 25 feet tall on its tail, and the lego installation can classify as a contemporary pop art piece. It is comic book-like with elements of juxtaposition as seen in the sculpture’s playful interaction– up close, your brain may ask, is it a whale? But, from far away, your eyes may assume that the classical sculpture is lifelike. 

5. Colosso dell’Appennino in Florence, Italy

Colosso dell Appennino in Florence, Italy

Colosso Dell’Appennino is one of many 16th-century sculptures that contemporary artists and tourists must see. The stone sculpture hovers 35 feet tall over a lush pond in the beautiful Villa di Pratolino– a northern town 30-minutes outside of Florence. 

Italian sculptor Giambologna didn’t just create a sculpture in pursuit of understanding the balance between humans and nature or the typical mold of renaissance sculpting. He also hid rooms throughout the stone piece that traversed the stone from nose to tail.  

6. ArcelorMittal Orbit in London, United Kingdom

ArcelorMittal Orbit in London, United Kingdom

Serving as a steel observation tower and sculpture designed by award-winning sculptors Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, the 376-foot tall ArcelorMittal Orbit is nothing short of impressive. The sculpture overlooks London city views from Stratford at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park. 

The sculpture features the world’s longest and tallest orbiting tunnel and free fall transparent abseil that plunges visitors 80-meters to the ground. This sculpture is the first of its kind– modern and mythical. 

7. Les Voyageurs in Marseille-Fos Port, France

Source: Brunocatalano.com

Bruno Catalano casts ten surrealist bronze sculptures named Les Voyageurs of the travelers and illuminated by the gravity-defying missing fragments inside the inside sculpture’s body alongside the waterfront at Marseille-Fos Port in France. The sculpture also leaves meaning to the viewer’s interpretation.

The existential themes of migration and travel may symbolize the emotions many immigrants experience when they move to a new location– leaving or losing a part of themselves behind and embarking on a new life in a new world without old habits and routines. 

8. Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913

Unique Forms of Continuity. (Made in 1912 and cast in 1934) Gino Severini. Museum of Modern Art, in New York.
Unique Forms of Continuity. (Made in 1912 and cast in 1934) Gino Severini. Museum of Modern Art, in New York.

The bronze Futurist sculpture “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” stands over 3 feet tall at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo. Umberto Boccioni depicts a human-like figure traveling in constant motion and interacting simultaneously with the force of space and time in all directions.

The sculpture also offers a glimpse into Italy’s current and future industrial-technological development. 

9. Maman by Louise Bourgeois

Maman Sculpture at National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
Maman Sculpture at National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

The Maman is over 30 feet tall and 33 feet wide bronze spider sculpture tribute to Louise Bourgeois’s mother– a loving and bittersweetly complete. Due to the mammoth size of the sculpture, the audience may interpret the arachnoid as a predator and prey– power and fear. 

The sculpture took inspiration from 20th-century avant-garde movements such as surrealism, abstract expression, and familial personal experiences. You can find the sculpture at several permanent locations, as well as temporary ones.  Permanent locations include:

  • Tate Modern, UK,
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain
  • Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
  • Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, South Korea
  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA
  • Qatar National Convention Center, Doha, Qatar

10. Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, 1894–85

Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, 1894–85

The Burghers of Calais is a 6 feet 10 inches by 7 feet 10 inches by 6 feet 3 inches bronze sculpture by French sculptor Auguste Rodin that represents the desire to emerge from oppression into freedom. It also depicts the six burghers at the time of the siege. 

Although the sculpture mimics modern and impression styles of art, the sculpture still tells the unique story of the Hundred Years’ War that left the French Port, Calais, to surrender at the hand of King Edward III English soldiers. The sculpture stands in Calais, France.

11. Ferrari statue in Imola, Italy

Courtesy Galloria d’Arte Maggiore

Imagine a greeting so tall that it looks like a dozen bronze Ferrari F40 models stacked 5 meters tall – that’s what Arman (no last name) sought to do upon commission request. The installation is the first monument you see when you enter the Enzo and Dino Ferrari racetrack in Imola, Italy.

This modern yet classic take on the beloved Ferrari. So classic that Ferrari added the signature red paint to the commission.

12. Richard Serra, One Ton Prop (House of Cards), 1969

Courtesy: JenGravesCornish, Flickr

However simple, One Ton Prop blends hard or plastic materials such as lead-antimony, rubber, and steel into a freestanding geometric cube. Although some viewers would stumble upon this sculpture as just a box, its simplicity is a common modern theme in the minimalist art style.

From some angles, it may appear that Sculptor Richard Serra designed One Ton Prop to fall apart seamlessly, but he transforms the house of cards into a stable structure that requires each piece to lean on one another. 

The sculpture is 48 by 48 by 1 at the infamous Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

13. Eva Hesse, Hang Up, 1966

Eva Hesse, Hang Up, 1966

German-born artist Eva Hesse combines minimalism and pop art to create Hang Up, where she covers the wooden frame with an acrylic-covered cloth and an acrylic-covered metal rod turning what initially appears as a blank painting inside an absurd sculpture.

The metal wire protrudes awkwardly out of the wood frame onto the floor. And the blend of soft and hard textures makes a clear distinction between sculpture and painting, although she simultaneously appears to be the same. 

The sculpture’s dimensions are 72 by 84 by 78 inches. And features alongside other sculptures in abstract art and paintings in Gallery 297 at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

14. The Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest, Hungary

The Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest, Hungary

Sculptor Gyula Pauer created a memorial on Hungary’s Budapet Danube River in honor of the Jewish residents that lost their lives at the hands of the Hungarian militia during the Second World War. The victims forcibly removed their shoes before the heinous crimes took place at the river’s edge. 

Although the militia sold many of the victim’s shoes in such war crimes, the life-size sixty iron-anchored sculptures represent the shoes that victims left behind alongside their lives. The sculpture is a beautiful example of realism and draws from the culturally influenced aspects of contemporary art.  

15. Non-Violence in New York, New York

Non-Violence Sculpture - The Knotted Gun - NYC

The bronze knotted Colt Python magnum revolver by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward is a sculpture of art inspired by the 1980 murder of John Lennon. The original public sculpture is at the United Nations in New York. 

The figurative sculpture symbolizes violence prevention efforts by the nonprofit The Non-Violence Project. However, its significance has inspired 31 copies of various sizes worldwide from Sweden to China. 

The dimensions of the sculpture are 50 feet tall, and it weighs over 160 tons.

16. Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate, 2006

Courtesy Anish Kapoor

The Cloud Gate or “The Bean” by Indian-born British sculptor Anish Kapoor is Chicago’s most iconic sculpture of art. Although the sculpture combines 168 wielded plates of stainless steel, the massive 33 by 42 by 66 feet liquid-inspired mercury sculpture weighs over 110 tons. 

Anish Kapoor’s art style can classify as contemporary due to its worldly influence and innovative sculpting. 

The Cloud Gate is the backdrop of numerous commercial films, Hollywood films, music videos, and fantasy novel series such as Battle Ground by Jim Butcher. The sculpture lives at Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois, between Lake Michigan and Grant Park.

17. Duchamp, Bicycle Wheel, 1913

Bicycle Wheel by Marcel Duchamp
Bicycle Wheel by Marcel Duchamp

Although the original 1913 and 1916 Bicycle Wheel sculptures are lost, the recreation of the metal bicycle wheel mounted to a painted wood stool is home at the well-known Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, New York. 

French artist Marcel Duchamp is known for finding inspiration in representing simple utilitarian objects as “readymade” is representative of the classic modern and conceptual art styles. And the readymade sculptures are repositioned, titled, or signed as art. 

The dimensions are 51 by 25 by 16 inches. 

18. Diminish and Ascend in Christchurch, New Zealand

Diminish and Ascend Sculpture

The welded aluminum stairway Diminish and Ascend a unique original sculpture of art as a permanent installation at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens in New Zealand. 

The contemporary sculpture is a 31 feet long optical illusion that ascends ordinary-sized steps from the bottom of Kiosk Lake into small steps that lead to nowhere. 

Although the intention of the installation proved to be one-of-kind, New Zealand sculptor David McCracken has big plans to evolve the sculpture into a massive safer monument. 

19. Release in Howick, South Africa

Mandela Scuplture - South Africa

Standing 50- meter tall steel columns deep, the sculpture Release changes shape depending on where the viewer stands. The columns appear as the mark of the sculpture from the side of the road. And as you work your way around the sculpture’s right, former South African president Nelson Mandela’s face appears. 

The sculpture takes place at the South African sight of Mandela’s capture and arrest after nearly 17 months of evading jail time disguised as a chauffeur. The moment marks a critical moment in South African history and the Apartheid era. 

Sculptors Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose created the installation at Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

20. “Spot” in New York, New York

Spot Sculpture - NYC
Courtesy Donald Lipski

“Spot” is a 30-foot four-story sculpture of a gigantic playful Dalmation balancing a Toyota Prius NYC taxi on his nose. Sculptor Donald Lipski sculpted the installation to give relief to hospital patients, staff, and visitors at the NYU Langone Hospital.

The contemporary sculpture is a symbol of the power of art therapy and the medicinal effects that art can elude comfort and humor for patients living with chronic health conditions alongside the heroic medical staff by their side.  

21.  Singing Ringing Tree in Burnley, United Kingdom

The Singing Tree - Sculpture

Architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu sculpt the 10-feet tall Singing Ringing Tree out of wind energy in Lancashire, England. The sculpture is accessible by walking trails and overlooks the Pennine mountain range and above Crown point. 

The installation layers galvanized steel into the form of a swirling tree. Each pipe varies in size, length, and position. When the wind blows, the steel pipes form a musical instrument producing creepy alien-like yet beautiful low-humming melodies. 

The sculpture is a contemporary, futuristic sculpture that won the architectural excellence National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects. 

22. Constantin Brancusi, Mlle Pogany, 1913

Courtesy Steve Guttman, Flickr

The Mlle Pognant is a 1-foot tall bronze abstract portrait representing Hungarian artist Margit Pogany in a simplified, stylized art history. French Romanian-born artist Constantin Brancusi also integrated a black patina medium that covers Pogany’s hair. 

The modern 20th-century sculpture can also give a glimpse into Brancusi’s minimal sculpting background that took a complex portait into simple shapes– large almond eyes and delicately smooth nose bridge leaving the viewer to make assumptions. 

23. Antonio Canova, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, 1804–6

Perseus with Head of Medusa

Neoclassical sculptor Italian-born Antonio Canova, sculpt the Greek mythological hero Perseus decapitating the head of enemy Medusa– a dangerous woman with tresses of snakes. Despite Medusa’s ability to turn any man into stone with a glance, Perseus looks Medusa in the face as if she is terrified of him.

The marble sculpture also depicts Perseus modeling the gold sandals of Mercury and Vulcan and Hades’ invisible cape. The replica of the marble sculpture rests at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, The original sculpture shares its residence with many unique sculptures of art at the Vatican Museum.