Menneske Pyramide [Human Pyramid]

Menneske Pyramide [Human Pyramid]
  • Title :     Menneske Pyramide [Human Pyramid]
  • Artist:     Harald Rudyard Engman Artist
  • Accession:     87.789.5.1
  • Country:     Denmark Copenhagen
  • Date:     1941
  • Dimensions:     Inches 59-1/4 51-5/8, Centimeters 150.5 131.2
  • Collection:     Object
  • Category:     Paintings and Sculpture
  • Subject:     Anti-Nazism , Humor/Satire , Figurative
  • Credit Line:     The Wolfsonian–Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection
  • URL:     87.789.5.1.JPG
  • Tags:     Paintings and Sculpture
Oil on canvas painting depicting a pyramid made up of masses of people from ancient times to the present (1941). At the bottom of the sea is scattered debris, bones and skulls. At the base of the pyramid are prehistoric people, animals and early Norsemen. Above that are early settlers, Dutchmen, an early submarine, shark and other historic figures. At bottom center, a priest with head bowed over a roaring bonfire in which a witch is burning. Pyramid rises out of the water and bathers and tents are scattered on the shoreline. Higher in the pyramid are early means of transportation and rows of industrial buildings. Also in the pyramid, there are army officers, the rich and poor, workers, mothers with children. At the top of the pyramid is a young boy with wings like an angel holding a sling-shot and looking over the landscape. In the background, other more modern buildings and smokestacks and a city with skyscrapers and an airplane and hot air balloon are at the top of the canvas. This painting is full of socio-political messages relating to Denmark's unfortunate involvement in WWII. The symbolism is ominous and pervasive throughout the painting and reflects Engman's satirical commentary on the negative aspects of Nazi occupation of Denmark. This is represented by the use of various images in the pyramid. The lowest images represent a look at Danish and Scandinavian history, from prehistoric times of cavemen to the Vikings and Norsemen and then progressing upwards through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, etc. Engman's unsettling humor can be seen in the sunken ship below the water at left with the name "DANMARK" on its side, representing the destruction and the end for Denmark under Nazi occupation. At right, also below the water, is a submarine bearing Danish flags, with the name "FAEDRELANDET" invading the Danish world below, representing the invasion of the German fatherland and also representing the name of the Danish Nazi newspaper published during this period by the DNSAP (Danish National Socialist Workers Party).