I had the pleasure of visiting Walsall’s New Art Gallery at the weekend (to go and see an exhibition about the art of the graphic novel) and was stunned into submission to see a lifesize replica – it’s about 12 feet tall – of this amazing piece of work by Jacob Epstein.
The story goes that Epstein sculpted this in 1913 as a celebration of man’s embracing of technology and the bold optimism of the future.
As he became drawn into the Vorticist movement and with the onset of the First World War, Epstein’s opinions changed; he saw that technology was being bent to the purposes of war, cruelty, abuse and destruction and this lead to his destroying his own piece of work.
I can’t explain what kind of impression this piece made on me, save to say that an image does it no justice. It really is awe-inspiring.
Update: I’ve just noticed the similarity between this and the battle droids in the last three Star Wars films. I guess Jacob wouldn’t have been too impressed with his creation being armed with laser rifles and told to Kill on Sight.