question, don't mean to be argumentative, but haven't people been creating statues for almost all of history? I think the oldest statue is 30,000-40,000 years old.
Sure. Back in those days they erected statues to revere or fend of deities. Later many statues were created of conquerors, liberators and kings, but these were quite often put up as bragging rights and to make sure the subjugated people knew their place and prosperous people knew where their loyalties were supposed to be paid.
During the Renaissance most statues were created to as a means of creating an abstract cultural ethos or as a Biblical interpretation. The shift to these forms of art was not an accident, they intentionally stopped immortalizing contemporary men and instead embraced the intangible. It was a cultural shift and there was quite a bit of push back from what would probably be a similar crowd that we see are pushing back today.
No one is asking to have The Statue of Liberty or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier removed because they are an abstract idea, they represent a cultural ethos. Art is much more meaningful when it's representative of an idea, not just meant to deify one single man.