Rescue was made during Ásmundur’s sojourn in Copenhagen in the winter of 1936–7. A depiction of a rescue at sea, it has also been known as Seamen. The sculpture was enlarged to a height of four metres in 1957–60 and cast in bronze in 1983.
The staging of the piece is ambiguous: the upper figure stands on a skerry, or perhaps the keel of a capsized boat – which could equally well be a wave – struggling to pull the other figure up out of the waves. The two figures together form a continuous spiral movement from the right foot of the lower figure up to the left hand of the upper figure. The focus is on the moment, the instant when the man is hauled up out of the waves – saved from certain death. In this piece it is the composition, the spiral impetus, which expresses the import of the work, and hence the internal formal structure – anatomy and proportion – are subordinated to the overall vision of the work, and adapted to it. Thus we see how the right arm and shoulder of the upper figure are distorted by the strain depicted, and form a part of the overall movement of the piece. Thus the dramatic content of the sculptor may be said to call for transformation of form.