Is he contemplating the great questions of God, existence, mortality? Did he get jilted by a girl and is wondering how to get her back? Is he trying to remember what he needs to pick up for tonight’s dinner?
Although a formidable six feet six inches tall (not counting the pedestal), The Thinker is a kind of Everyman. Like all great art, what we see in it is a reflection of ourselves. Our own lives, our own thoughts.
Cast in bronze, he is naked and seated on a pedestal. He leans forward, elbow on knee, his chin resting on his hand in a position mimicked, most famously perhaps, by the teenage hero of the 1960s TV sitcom, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” Whenever Dobie was in a mess, which was often, he would sit down in this position and try to figure a way out. His best friend was a beatnik named Maynard G. Krebs.
Unlike old TV shows, Rodin’s genius work of art will never grow old. This one is located in San Francisco in the front courtyard of the Legion of Honor museum, steps away from a hillside view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Museums in Rodin’s birthplace of Paris, Philadelphia, and elsewhere have casts of “The Thinker.” If you get a chance, go see it in person. It will make you think.