Sunday, August 10, 2008

Man Carving His Own Destiny, By Albin Polasek

Recently I had the pleasure to defend this piece against what I consider are much lesser works of the same subject matter. The person who was casting the dispersions on this sculpture knew only of a poor replica done of the piece that is on display at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. Anyone that does a piece with this theme deserves great praise even for attempting it. However the pieces I've seen by other sculptors are second rate and/or have subtle secondary theme like carving yourself is and has to be fraught with errors and mistakes and missteps. One particularly disturbing version shows a man with scars on his legs where he erred.

Mistakes are likely to happen in real life, but art is there to show us the potential, the essence, the important. The important in life is not the mistakes or suffering we may experience, but the work, the triumph and the joy that is possible.

While on visits to the Polasek Museum, I have heard some great stories about both the sculptor and sculpture which I will not try to repeat here for fear of not retelling them precisely. I will instead continue to search the web for exact quotes.

This is one of the better I've come across:

"Albin Polasek was unable to find a model for the sculpture with the spirit he wanted, so he posed for it himself. There were many versions of it produced, however, before this particular edition. After Polasek completely lost the use of one side of his body due to paralysis, he wanted to have the sculpture reproduced for the grounds of his home in Winter Park. He engaged a sculptor to work under his supervision, however the new sculptor died before the sculpture was completed. Polasek then finished the sculpture with aid of his wife and his gardener. He guided the chisel in the hand of the workman."

By the bye, I received my first visitor this week from someone who was searching Google for "Capitalist Art". If there is such a thing as Capitalist art, or art for a Capitalist society and culture this is it!

Amendum 8/11/2008
There is a nice photo of "Man Carivng His Own Destiny" on Fullblown Technicolor
Here is an exceptionally cool photo of Polasek with his sculpture-in-progress
I am not as wild about this photo, but it offers some details that are not available in the others.
Here is an image of a copy of the original that is displayed in Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina:

Amendum 8/16/2008
Here are a couple of links to Bobbie Carlyle's 'Self-Made man'. The piece is nice, but I still favor Polasek's.


LB said...

That is an excellent story about the artist. I searched for "man sculpting himself" after reading about the statue from a poster on HBL, and came up with Bobbie Carlyle's Self Made Man. While I can't see it in the round on her website, it also looks quite good.

The Aesthetic Capitalist said...

Hi lb,

The gentleman who posted on HBL is the same I mentioned in my blog.

And I am 99% positive that the piece that was mentioned on HBL is the same Bobbie Carlyle piece that you found. There is no denying it is a nice sculpture; you can see another angle of the piece on the Cordair website:

However I contend that no matter how nice the Carlyle piece is, it doesn't begin to touch power and integration of the Polasek piece.

One of most frustrating things about this conversation is the fact the photos on the web do not do either piece justice.

Anonymous said...

"Man Carving His Own Destiny" is a copyright-protected piece owned by the Albin Polasek Foundation, Inc. in Winter Park. Mr. Carlyle appears to have either copied or come up with the same concept. Either way, I find Polasek's ability to replicate the human form simply breathtaking. Check out the museum at

Michael Randall said...

Anonymous, I completely agree. Polasek was a master sculptor. I have been to his museum in Florida multiple times -- one of my favorite places.

Goran K King said...

Taking up sculpting at the age of 68 is an exciting adventure. After sculpting "EVE" breaking the mold, I googled "sculpting self" to see if others had worked with this subject matter, and came across your blog. WOW! Albin Polasek. I am humbled, and proud to have witnessed his genius. Perhaps someday I can see and touch "Self Made Man" in person.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
You can witness my humble contribution to the subject matter by clicking the link below.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,
I´m in love with this type of sculpture, there are many many artists that have attempted such subject, but this is the oldest one I found (1907), still though, the concept is so universal that I'm surprised that after many hours of research I have not been able to find an older one, I mean, c'mon, some Greek had to do something like this, wouldn't you think?