Agora Design Partnership | Design for Public Parks & Spaces

Albert Einstein Memorial

  • 1 1/3 times life size
  • For the Committee for the Albert Einstein Memorial
  • Collège de France, Paris, France
  • Year completed: 2008

Albert Einstein lived in Paris and taught at the Sorbonne (Collège de France) in 1926–27. Here, he kept in contact with and was surrounded by colleagues: Max Planck, Marie Curie, Henri Poincare, all instrumental in the creation of atomic and molecular theory in the beginning of the twentieth century. The goal of this portrait was to have not the stereotyped, aging Einstein often put on T-shirts and posters, but the scientist Einstein when he was younger and in full vigor. In order to create this portrait in bronze, Richard Light did considerable research including studying photographs of Einstein in his forties. The portrait depicts Einstein as a younger man, but in this case, a man with a lot on his mind. It is as if, even before the creation of the atomic bomb, he realized the consequences of this astounding theory, E = mc².

Einstein’s personal life was tumultuous. His first marriage ended in divorce. Following this, his younger son spent most of his life in a mental institution. Later, perhaps out of desperation, Einstein married his cousin, Elsa. This in the end, did not work out either. In spite of the grin with which he is usually depicted, many people have detected a sadness in Einstein’s eyes. Perhaps in this case, the eyes have truly been a window to the soul.