With a background in engineering, Rudolf Hoflehner created works infused with an awareness of the dangers and promise of industry and mechanization. Grappling with these issues, this sculpture, Human Condition, offers a machine-human hybrid, now reminiscent of science-fiction cyborgs. Yet even as its menacing forms and intimidating stride threaten the individual viewer, the iron statue stands before us rusted and inert, prey to the ravages of time. In this sense, Human Condition refuses to concede to nature or to technology; it battles to understand the human condition not in the absence of industry but in relation to it. Rudolf Hoflehner’s early education set the parameters for his future work as an artist. He attended the State Vocational School for Engineering in Linz and studied architecture at the Technical College in Graz before entering the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1938.
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Hoflehner would later turn away from the technological and toward the organic. He composed several telling lines of verse: “The human is neither architecture nor machine/The human is a human . . . The body avenges itself/ The goal is the human . . . Iron is foreign to me/ I struggle with foreigners.”