Friday, 11 December 2009

If men had babies would there be wars?

Anish Kapoor's retrospective at the RA, which closes today, is making the news headlines because of its success, but I thought a load of red candle wax fired out of a canon didn't have the "emotional resonance" advertised. How could it? Kapoor's red was Christmas candle red and matched the RA shop's Christmas gift ideas. However, what do I know? The exhibition was jam-packed when I visited, with a lot of people going cor-wow.

For some emotional engagement, next door there is Wild Things, an exhibition of truly obsessed sculpting geniuses, Gill, Gaudier-Brzeska and Epstein. The show closes with the truly terrifying overpowering Rock Drill by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880 - 1959).

"...the astounding modern reconstruction of Epstein’s terrifying masterpiece Rock Drill of 1913-15, at once the first representation of a robot in art, and one of the first times a found object (a real rock drill) had been incorporated unchanged into any work of art. Those who first saw the statue were shocked by what looked to them like a big, aggressive phallic symbol. But as the Great War took its toll, it became impossible to see the towering mechanical creature as anything other than a symbol of death itself in an industrialised form. For now the robot and his tool looked like a machine gunner indiscriminately mowing down anything that crosses his path."

Look carefully at the torso, and you can see it appears to contain an unborn child.

1 comment:

  1. Rock Drill is indeed a tremendous piece. The exhibition is appealing. I was recently stunned by the number and impact of modern scultpures dotted about Rome - it's great to just 'come upon' such pieces in a cityscape, especially when they're flanked by architecture, gardens and sculptures dating back a couple of thousand years.