Senior Curator of 19th and Early 20th Century Art. A life-size bronze piece commissioned
for a private residence, Moses Striking the Rock is on display in the Academy’s
rotunda through January 26, 2014 as part of the Museum’s ongoing “Sculpture in the
Rotunda” series. The event invites the public to learn about the work directly from
the artist himself.
Moses Striking the Rock depicts the Old Testament scene described in Exodus in which
God instructs Moses to strike a rock to bring forth water for the Israelites wandering
in the desert. The sculpture is exemplary of Gagnier’s method of working from classical
subjects but distorting the human figure in an expressive, improvisational fashion.
The life-size figure of Moses stands firmly with the staff in his hand, his strained
musculature underscoring the intense psychological exertion that his act of faith
required. Gagnier achieves this emotion by manipulating the surfaces, playing with
the reflection of light with an almost painterly hand.
Inaugurated in 2011, the National Academy’s “Sculpture in the Rotunda” series exhibits
large-scale sculpture and installation work in the Academy’s Beaux-Arts rotunda.