The Thinker
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More about The Thinker

ebrowne's picture


At first glance, The Thinker, or as I like to call it The Stinker, looks like a large, naked man on the toilet having forgotten his iPhone whilst indisposed.

On the contrary, this sculpture is a lot more sophisticated and a lot less humorous than our first impression. The Thinker, originally called The Poet is meant to be a likeness of Dante, author of The Divine Comedy, at the Gates of Hell. You could say being in the bathroom without a phone is a special kind of Hell, but let’s move on. The Thinker is part of the bigger Gates of Hell scene for a new museum in Paris and despite putting 37 years of work into the sculpture Rodin never finished and the museum was never built. Rodin didn’t totally waste his time, however because he remains one of the only sculptors known outside of the art world.

You may notice that this Thinker at the Cleveland Museum of Art has no feet. This is because it was attacked by a terrorist group called Weather Underground, whose mission was to topple the US government. In the wee small, seemingly peaceful hours of the morning on March 24, 1970, terrorists, strapped a pipe bomb to the sculpture’s feet and caused an explosion that toppled this 1600 pound statue to the ground, making a noise heard from two miles away. Though it was never restored, it is still on display in all of its weathered glory.

Rodin stated about The Thinker, “What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes.” Bummer we can’t see the thinking in his legs and toes anymore, but hats off to Rodin for inspiring thinkers all over the world.