Atlas Libertas is placed on the main façade that welcomes visitors in the building of the UFM Business School.
A high-relief sculpture of a human figure supporting the universe, seen from the back from head to hip. The universe is represented by a series of semicircles (abstract planets and gear mechanisms). The sculpture is made of brass plate with a cyan-colored finish resembling oxidized copper.
Title of the sculpture
4.5 m high by 4.5 m wide
in high relief with a depth of
approximately 40 cm
Walter Peter Brenner
About the Artist
Walter Peter Brenner was born in Guatemala in 1965 to a family of Swiss origin. He has worked as a professional artist for twenty years, dedicating the last twelve to sculpture. His father, renowned Guatemalan painter Walter Peter Koller, taught him to draw and paint. He studied architecture at Universidad Francisco Marroquín and sculpture at the School of Fine Arts in Zürich, Switzerland.
He is director of his own art academy, Ars Artis, where he also teaches. He has also taught artistic drawing I and II, and interior and graphic design at the architecture schools of two universities in Guatemala—Rafael Landívar and Istmo.
He has had seven individual shows of his paintings, two of these in Switzerland, and participated in approximately thirty collective shows and several art auctions. Walter is best known as the creator of a ten-meter-tall terracotta monument known as El Coloso de Inmaco (The Inmaco Colossus).
The Guatemalan Olympic Committee awarded him first prize for his participation in Art & Sport 2000, an art competition sponsored by the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. His prize-winning piece, entitled El Arquero (The Archer), expresses the idea that in order to reach our highest goals we must always aim towards our own destiny.
By Walter Peter, Jr.
For me, Atlas Shrugged represents many ideas and emotions. I read Ayn Rand’s masterful literary classic in 1991 while studying sculpture in Switzerland. In fact, I was travelling by train at night as I read the description of Hank Rearden’s steel factory. As we crossed the railroad bridges with the lights in the distance resembling those steel factories, a chill ran through me as I imagined my SELF-MADE MAN, created from steel. It was the abstraction of a sculptural idea that would haunt me for the next sixteen years, until now when I find myself completing it; no longer abstract, but concrete. This is what Atlas Shrugged means to me: it is a sense of the heroic life, imprinted on me back then; it is a sense of life that I feel in body and soul, in which man is capable of shaping and forging his own destiny; a sense of the sure hope that one day I will be able to realize my most cherished dreams; a sense of a life of strength, of achievement, of profound and full joy.
In terms of emotion, Atlas Shrugged represents both physical and mental pleasure to me, the logical result of the conviction—proud and rational—that gave me the strength to rebel, as did that Titan of Greek mythology. Mine is a rebellion against all in the modern art movement, of today and of the last one hundred years, that professes a Zeus-like Dictatorship from the Mount Olympus of Ideas without Values; a Dictatorship of Artists, Promoters, Curators, and Art Historians who spout an avalanche of anti-virtues that lead human beings to the most oppressed animal state of irrationality. Here, one’s best efforts are subjectivized; absolute truth does not exist. Ayn Rand’s book gives me reason to continue in my belief that the struggle to achieve humanistic greatness is worthwhile. For me it is a pitched battle against a tenacious enemy: the irrationality and weakness of those lacking the courage face the ultimate consequences in the challenge to find a single truth. Atlas Shrugged reminds me that I am not alone in this battle.
Atlas Libertas is inspired by the title and subject of Ayn Rand’s literary masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged. The Atlas of Greek mythology was a hero who led the Giants in an uprising against the tyrannical gods of Mount Olympus. He fights for his freedom as well as that of the Giants and humans. After losing the battle, Zeus punishes Atlas making him hold up the heavens, the universe (not the earth), for all eternity.
In my recreation of Atlas, it is not the mythological figure I represent, but a metaphorical one in the form of a human being, the individual mover of human development here on Earth and in the Universe; a capable, strong, just, ambitious, and intelligent human who requires individual freedom in order to reach his highest potential. It is, thus, Rand’s heroic vision of man that I want to express: a person who through his essential virtues remains true to his highest values, struggling to achieve his goals without violating the individual rights of his fellow man. I attempt to express the sense of a life of accomplishment, of ability, of excellence, just as Ayn Rand so eloquently and clearly puts forth in her moral philosophical thought.
It is the human being who attains knowledge, who acts, whose ambitions are coupled with strength and tempered by justice and moderation, the cardinal virtues Any Rand learned from Aristotle, and then adopted and integrated in the hierarchy of her own philosophy, objectivism. Atlas is the man who triumphs and who is therefore fulfilled, happy. In the abstract of Ayn Rand’s heroic vision, the entrepreneur, the productive individual, the just all come together. The gear mechanisms, the planets and celestial bodies, in blue and gold metal, represent time in the universe, industry, productivity, and the richness of happiness. They also represent the interlocking unity implicit in the generator of all human action: his mind, his rationality, and the primordial courage that enables him to survive and achieve his objectives; these are what lead to victory. He is the one who triumphs in freedom and only with freedom.
Walter Peter, Jr.