Vir Temporis Acti
Adolfo Wildt (1868-1931)
The work exhibited here is the best known of the versions taken from the original sculpture, a large marble bust with severed arms and legs and a gilded bronze sword embedded in its base. The original sculpture, commissioned by Franz Rose, was donated to the Neue Museum in Königsberg in 1912, but was destroyed during the bombing of World War II. Based on documentary evidence, scholars have dated Vir Temporis Acti to between 1910 and 1911, when Wildt seems to have reached new heights in his sculpture: the twisted delirium of the anatomy, the Hellenistic and Baroque elements, and the realistic and decorative virtuosity all express the sculptor's desire to plumb collective depths and explore the irrational. This figure of a flagellated warrior touches upon the unconscious and myth, and Wildt expresses here the theme of self-sacrifice, which had already appeared in his Self-portrait; there is also a double reference to the hermaphroditism of Christ in the nipples in the form of a flower and to his life-giving reality in the symbolism of the sword. The title (roughly, a man from antiquity) emphasises the work’s allegorical meaning: it shows a slave or warrior from ancient times, a man painfully aware of his end.