‘Rodin at The Met’ Celebrates a Centennial
Rodin inspired more emotion in the World War I memorial sculpture
By Milene Fernandez
via the Epoch Times web site
NEW YORK—If you would be asked to imagine a sculpture, you would most likely conjure an image of a robust male nude sitting on a rock, hunched over diagonally with his right elbow digging into his left knee, his chin resting on his right hand, his head downcast—that iconic sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), “The Thinker.” This year marks the centennial of Rodin’s death. It gives us ample opportunity to re-think this larger-than-life sculptor. Rodin may be difficult to pinpoint in art history yet he continues to influence artists today.
Museums around the world are celebrating Rodin’s legacy and The Metropolitan Museum of Art is no exception. Since cementing a fruitful relationship with Rodin during the artist’s lifetime and owning a wide array of his work, The Met has put together a most refreshing and uniquely comprehensive exhibition, “Rodin at The Met,” on view until Jan. 15, 2018.
“The exhibition tells the story of this great artist but also the story of a hundred years of gifts and acquisitions of his works,” said Daniel H. Weiss, president and CEO of The Met at a press preview on Sept. 15. Many of the works The Met acquired as gifts from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, which also made the exhibition possible.
The Met owns 91 Rodin sculptures, in marble, bronze, plaster, and terracotta. More than half, 49, are on view, featuring iconic sculptures like “The Thinker” in the same size as in “The Gates of Hell” portal, and “The Hand of God,” among others. One of the curator’s joys of working on this exhibit was discovering the exquisitely carved sculpture, “The Tempest.” It had been kept in storage well over 20 years. The only other marble known of it is in the Musée Rodin in Paris.
“Rodin actually changed the way that I work. I had to learn drama and storytelling, and Rodin helped me with that.”
-- Sabin Howard, sculptor for the national World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.
The statue that marked the beginning of Rodin’s public career, “The Age of Bronze,” stands as usual in the center of the gallery, as the axis of two major themes of the exhibition—creation and death.
On the west side of the gallery, stands the literary giant, the “Monument to Balzac,” and “The Hand of God,” Rodin’s great tribute to Michelangelo and to artistic creativity. In contrast, the east side of the gallery focuses on despair, displaying “Adam” and “Eve” on both sides of ‘The Thinker,” mimicking their placement in the great portal, “The Gates of Hell.”
On the walls, paintings from The Met’s collection by some of Rodin’s most admired contemporaries are displayed. “We could make the paintings for the first time really speak to the sculptures and the sculptures speak to the paintings and that’s [the result of our] collaborative effort,” said Denise Allen, curator of European sculpture and decorative art at The Met and the main organizer of the exhibition. Allen led a team from three departments.
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