Flying Sphere, 1920, Bronze
Robert Tait McKenzie (Canadian, 1867 – 1938)
Bearing the grace of a dancer and the balance of an acrobat, R. Tait McKenzie’s work is in reality a shot-putter captured in the middle of a competition. With delicate curves following the motion of his throw throughout his body, the athlete as a whole evokes the titular shot’s own curved path as it flies across the field – a great example of grand motion encapsulated in a seemingly simple pose. Following his idealistic-yet-anatomically-accurate tendencies, the artist has successfully instilled a contemporary sport with the energy and finesse worthy of the classical world.
Thank correspondence from the artist’s wife, scholars now believe this work was first commissioned by Justice Jasper Yates Brinton to honor his brother, a young Pennsylvanian athlete. As many of his other works, the piece’s intimate origin was soon blurred by its global fame. Perceived by some critics as “McKenzie’s finest representation of the athlete in action,” it is no surprise that, after the piece’s presentation at the London exhibition, the artist immediately sold a whole issue of bronzes.
(click image to expand)