During the 16th century, painters and sculptors debated as to which medium was more ambitious. Painters stressed their ability to create three-dimensional illusions on flat walls, canvas, wood, or paper. They adjusted value, color, scale, and introduced mathematical perspective in order to simulate the complexities of space in the real world. However, sculptors pointed out that they did not need to resort to these tricks; their medium is already three-dimensional and exists in true space, reacting to the environment and natural light as do real objects. No one ever “won” the debate, however the arguments were interesting at the time.

There are two separate categories for the production of sculpture: subtractive and additive. In the subtractive method, the artist begins with a large mass of material and cuts away the excess, finally revealing the intended form. In the additive method, artists continually add more and more material until they reach the larger final form generally through the modeling of the material. Subtractive methods include wood or stone carving. Additive methods include metal casting, assembling, and modeling.