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Man Carving His Own Destiny
- Albin Polasek
Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens
About the Artwork
Albin Polasek’s signature piece recreated at the age of 82. Reminiscent of Michelangelo’s series of Slave sculptures, Polasek showed a man carving his own life from a piece of stone.
Considered Albin Polasek’s signature piece, Man Carving his Own Destiny, was first created while Polasek studied under Charles Grafly at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1907.
Reminiscent of Michelangelo’s series of Slaves, all were struck by the fact that a sculptural image as obvious as a man chiseling himself out of stone had not been seen quite that way before. Polasek sculpted 53 different variations of this sculpture throughout his lifetime for the public eye and private collections. The version in the Salon is the 1920 plaster. The various versions display differences in arm positions, the look of the hair, and how much body is emerged from the rock.
“I am like a piece of rock which has been broken off of the Carpathian Mountains in the heart of Czechoslovakia. Later this crude stone was transported to
the Land of the Free: the United States of America. This block of stone was myself. Through the opportunities that this country gave me, I started to carve out my destiny, to free myself from the rock so that I might be useful. No one knows the deep gratitude I feel for all that I have received. So if, as an immigrant,
I have been able to contribute to some small part of American life,
I know that I owe it to the opportunities this country opened to me.”
--Albin Polasek, excerpt taken from a speech given to the National Institute of
Immigrant Welfare, April, 1939.
About the Artist
Albin Polasek is heralded as one of America’s foremost sculptors of the twentieth century. Born in Frenstat, Moravia (now Czech Republic), he immigrated to the United States at the age of twenty-two. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and was formally trained under Charles Grafly. He was awarded in the Prix de Rome competition of 1910, with a three year fellowship at the American Academy of Art in Rome. At the age of thirty-seven, he became the head of the Sculpture Department at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1927, he was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design and received full Academician status in 1933. At the age of 71, Polasek retired to Winter Park, Florida, on picturesque Lake Osceola, now the site of the Albin Polasek Museum. A few months later, his artistic efforts were slowed dramatically by a stroke. Yet with determination and resolve, he continued to complete eighteen major works. In his lifetime, Albin Polasek created over four hundred works of art, leaving behind the legacy of a “man carving his own destiny”.
Did you know?
The famous Florida Highwaymen school of art is represented with an enlargement of a Harold Newton painting on the side of OUC's Reliable Plaza
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