The Well of Meunier

The Well of Meunier
The Well of Meunier

The artistic work of the Belgian Constantin Meunier began in the discipline of painting. And also with themes based on religious scenes, yes, always with a certain somber tone. However, his art was to change its tone completely when he began to establish contact with the people who worked in the industries and mines of certain regions ofBelgium.


The Well of Meunier

Seeing the harsh working conditions in which these people carried out their work, and the life they led, he acquired a strong social conscience that he would later transfer to his art. But not only did the theme change, the discipline also changed. He delved into the work of sculpture, since he considered that it was a much more adequate artistic medium to give a heroic treatment to all the suffering that these workers lived.

One of his first creations in this line came in 1883, with a wax modeling of a wellman's head. Many other sculptures of those workers would come from it, like this one in which we already see a full-length wellman that he made in 1885 or that of his famous Stevedore.

In thePocero, exhibited at theMuseum of Fine Arts in Brussels, we can appreciate all the characteristics of his art. He is a powerful figure with brutal expressiveness, both in the features of the character's face and throughout his body and in his posture, which here isrest, giving us an idea of ​​the immense fatigue he suffers from the hard work he does.

His message from him is clear, he elevates a worker, a member of the lower classes, to the status of a hero of his time. It is a work with the whole concept of monumentality. Without any pedestal, but without a doubt it gives us the idea of ​​a monument to the worker. Here and in many other of his creations he presents us with an archetype, perfectly recognizable and with which the workers can identify.

But besides that, you have to appreciate the style tools he uses. Since Meunier gave up a detailed description of faces and bodies, and focused on the material aspect of bronze, in this case. He simplifies the forms and makes the material express itself as well.

It is clear that Meunier's art is an ode to the working class, and his influence has been seen in other artists with social concerns who have come after. But there is a differential fact. On the one hand, his ability to create authentic icons and, on the other, his artistic mastery, since together with the message there is an aesthetic treatment typical of a master, knowing how to get all the possibilities out of materials and textures, and without resorting to too many poses or gestures. forced as if other later artists had done and excessively linked to propaganda programs.

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