Old Man River

Old Man River, Robert Shoen, New Orleans

Old Man River, Robert Shoen, New Orleans

Back in 1991, the newest attraction at Woldenberg Park was an 18-foot-high marble statue titled Old Man River located behind Jax Brewery. The sculptor, Robert Schoen, decided to create a monumental male figure with arms stretched up, a stylized human figure made of 17 tons of Carrera marble. The figure’s circular movement seems to convey a harmony between the artwork and its location. The river is connected to the land through the openings of the legs and arms. Old Man River is supported by a twin-tiered base with ridged sides that imitate currents in the Mississippi River.

It has been suggested that the muscular figure is, like the port of New Orleans, cosmopolitan in spirit. Stylistically, the sculpture suggests sources as diverse as streamlined neo-classical statuary of the 1930s and Asian and pre-Columbian art.

“I wanted to make a sculpture that would reflect the river’s embrace of the city,” Schoen said of the statue. “The sculpture is a modern statement with European roots, which is what makes New Orleans unique in America.”


Old Man River
A Man with a Past
Arms reach empty handed,
God to a city in Love
with Water
Robert Schoen
Artist 1991