Let's take a moment to consider the stark metallic humanoid of Jacob Epstein's 'Torso in Metal.'
Epstein (1880-1959) made his name in the art world through the creation of stark, controversial modern sculptures. This piece is particularly interesting since it encapsulates how WWI tarnished the artist's optimism (and by extension, humanity's optimism) for the a new technological age.
To the right you'll see a reproduction of Epstein's original 1913 piece "Rock Drill," in which a white, plaster version of the figure sits atop an actual rock drill. While the piece is not without its own ambiguous menace, the post-war followup took a far more negative stance on man and machine.
Epstein dismantled "Rock Drill" in 1916 and recreated the brooding figure halved, armless and cast in bronze. "Torso in Metal from 'The Rock Drill'" gave us, in Einstein's own words, only this:
Or, in the words of art critic Jonathan Jones, the original piece is "a Faustian dream of technological power and transformation" while the dark follow-up is "a maimed machine, the tragic embodiment of mechanised warfare. The same work of art in its two versions expresses both the exhilaration of the modern world, and its potential for devastation."
If you find yourself in London, you can also view the sculpture at the Tate Modern. I had the good fortune to do so several years ago and it was accompanied by the following piece of music from The Chemical Brothers:
Visit the Tate Modern website right here for more information.