If you wanna be in for a shock, go to Amazon and search the word 'sculpture' under books. You will no doubt be surprised at the rather paltry selection of titles covering an art form that goes all the way back to primitive times. We were, which increased our appreciation of the newly reissued two-volume, 25th Anniversary edition boxed set from Taschen, "Sculpture: From the Renaissance to the Present Day."
Lead editors Georges Duby and Jean-Luc Daval, have assembled perhaps the most complete compendium of the entire history of the art, from antiquity to the radical outdoor structures of the modern art era and every significant movement in between.
Volume One presents the history of sculpture, primarily from the major movements of the Greeks, the Etruscans and the Roman world. An exceedingly thorough discussion covers hundreds of examples from each period encompassing small figures, large statues, architectural sculpture and both indoor and outdoor reliefs. The superb collections of museums from Italy to the acropolis are covered in fine detail as are the origins of movements that changed the history of the art in significantly definable ways.
Volume Two is the chronologically based book featuring the well defined eras of the Renaissance to Baroque to the Rococo period. The eras are filled with robust depictions and descriptions of figures ranging from the mythological (Lombardo) to the religious (Della Robbia, Bernini, etc.) to subsets like political figures (Napoleon to Kaiser Wilhelm) the allegories of water (Paris' famous Fountain de Trevi), busts, architectural facades and more. There is even coverage of more modern, post-war abstractions, assemblages and constructions - ranging from the cubism of Picasso to the mobiles of Alexander Calder; the outsized work of Claes Oldenberg to the rigid boxes of Donald Judd; the expansiveness of Christo to the high concept insanity of Jeff Koons.
In all, these two volumes represent the most expansive and detailed presentation of sculpture in modern book form. For the student, the casual or even the more serious observer, there is much to ponder for everyone.