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Orangutan Strangling Borneo Hunter | by angus mcdiarmid
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Orangutan Strangling Borneo Hunter

I can't think that any block of marble has ever been put to better use than the one that Emmanuel Frémiet used to create this awesome sculpture.


It's got to be one of the high points of western art, and it sits right at the entrance to the Museum of Natural History in Paris, before the ticket booth, which means you don't even have to pay to see it -- another point in its favour. Has anyone before or since ever captured so well the fundamental, existential struggle between humankind and the psychopathic, strangly orangutan?


Why has no one ever told me about this statue before? Why have I heard of The Thinker, The Pieta and the Venus de Milo but not Orangutan Strangling Borneo Hunter?


A mystery.


This statue blew me away as soon as I saw it. It's so vigorous and dynamic and full of motion and unashamedly pulpy -- but it was sculpted before there were any pulps, which means that Frémiet could very well be the progenitor of the all the killer apes that were so prominent in popular culture for the 50 or 60 years that followed the his death in 1910, which isn't too bad a legacy, although I doubt he'd have been impressed.

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Taken on November 28, 2009