This Must-See Sculpture is a Real Life Stairway to Heaven

While most people immediately associate art with two-dimensional paintings, something can’t quite replicate the captivating nature of sculptures. Whether they are small busts or gargantuan pieces put on display, a sculpture inspires, creates awe, and sometimes even bewilders an audience. Stairway to heaven sculpture, for example, is an absolute must-see and perfectly illustrates the previous thought. 

Source: Accademia

Various art forms evoke different emotions, and each artist chooses the right medium to express their vision and an overall message.

Unlike other art forms, sculptures require more architecture and engineering. This is no easy feat considering that limitations of a structure should not constrain artistic vision.

When a sculpture stands on its own and delivers a clear idea to the viewer, it becomes all the more impressive. Some people might ask how it manages to balance on such a small point or how the sculptor managed to add specific angles while maintaining the piece’s structural integrity.

Source: Imgur

Stairway to Heaven Sculpture

One artwork that has caught many people’s attention is David McCracken’s Diminish and Ascend, often referred to as the “Stairway to heaven.” This sculptural installation looks like a never-ending staircase from various angles.

Stairway to heaven sculptureSource: Open City Projects

McCracken conceptualized Diminish and Ascend years before building it. It all started with a conversation on a performance piece with a ladder or similar that involved the protagonist growing smaller to ascend.

It was inspired in part by a common device used by iconic writer Lewis Carroll but using projection or shadow puppetry. McCracken sketched the idea, which he eventually turned into the head-turning sculpture on display today.

Featured in an outdoor exhibition event called Sculpture by the Sea in Australia, McCracken’s work proved to be one of the most talked-about sculptures on display. What makes this deceivingly simple staircase so eye-catching is the optical illusion it creates, which is a never-ending climb to the heavens.

Stairway to heaven sculptureSource: Flickr – Matthew Perkins

In this piece, the artist clearly demonstrated the technical aspects that are essential in sculpture-making. By creating regular-sized steps at the base and narrowing them to a point at the very end, this 31-food long sculpture tricks the eye into thinking it is much longer than it actually is.

This masterful optical illusion use ended up being one of the most photographed sculptures during that year’s exhibit.

Stairway to heaven sculptureSource: William Patino

Source: Flickr – Paul David


After the Sculpture on the Gulf exhibition in Australia, McCracken’s work was installed in New Zealand on Christchurch Botanic Gardens’ grounds. It sits by a lake, adding an ethereal and mysterious quality to the sculpture’s appearance.

McCracken hopes to build a second version of Diminish and Ascend but on a grander scale for permanent placement. Here are some astounding photos of the artwork in its current location.

Stairway to heaven sculptureSource: Atlas Obscura

Source: Atlas Obscura

Source: Atlas Obscura

If you liked this article on David McCracken’s art, then stay tuned for our other art features coming up! Also, check out this amazing sculpture located in China!

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