Musée d'Orsay: Bernhard Hoetger Human Machine

Bernhard Hoetger
Human Machine

Human Machine
Bernhard Hoetger (1874-1949)
Human Machine
Bronze relief
H. 44; W. 37; D. 18 cm
© ADAGP, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Gérard Blot / Christian Jean

Machine humaine [Human Machine]

Human Machine may be considered as Hoetger's first modern torso. Rodin's influence is here combined with realism as the torso is emerging from a frame made of the wooden planks used to shore up the gallery of the mine. The artist uses the strong contrast between the straight planks and the living flesh. Bronze is particularly suitable for rendering contracted, tortured anatomies.

The title refers to the world of industry which crushes the human being. A miner with powerful muscles, almost faceless and armless, becomes in the exacerbated expression of the effort he is making an icon of the wretched lot of the labourer and the drama of humankind. Hoetger was a German sculptor who, like Dalou in France and Constantin Meunier in Belgium, sang of the grandeur and miseries of the working world.

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