Auguste Rodin

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Auguste Rodin (born François-Auguste-René Rodin; November 12, 1840November 17, 1917) was the preeminent French sculptor of the modern era. He played a pivotal role in the art of the late nineteenth century, both excelling at and rebelling against the Beaux-arts tradition. His unique, virtuoso ability to organize a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface set him apart from the figure sculpture traditions before and since his time.


[edit] Early life

Rodin was born in 1840 into a working-class family in Paris, the son of Marie Cheffer and Jean-Baptiste Rodin, a police official. He was largely self-educated,<ref>"(François) Auguste (René) Rodin." International Dictionary of Art and Artists. St. James Press, 1990. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006.</ref> and began to draw at ten. At 14, he attended "la Petite École", a school specializing in art and mathematics. There, he studied drawing with Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran and painting with Belloc. Rodin submitted a clay model of a companion to the École des Beaux-Arts in 1857 in an attempt to win entrance.<ref name="nytobit"/><ref name="timeline">Template:Cite web</ref> He did not succeed, and two further applications were also denied. Instead, he attended Paris's School of Decorative Arts (1854-1857), and studied with sculptor Jean Baptiste Carpeaux.

Rodin's sister Maria, who had joined a convent, died in 1862, and the artist attempted to join a Christian order. He was soon dissuaded by its father superior, and returned to work as a decorator, while taking classes with animal sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye. In 1864, Rodin entered the studio of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, where he worked as an assistant until 1870. The two travelled to Brussels, Belgium in 1871.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Camille Claudel

In 1883, Rodin agreed to supervise Alfred Boucher's sculpture course during his absence, and met the 18-year-old sculptress Camille Claudel. Rodin fell in love with his talented pupil, and Claudel welcomed the opportunity to be tutored by a master. They became a creative and intimate couple. Claudel inspired Rodin as a model for many of his tragic figures, and assisted him on an important commission, The Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais). While Rodin used several models for each of his sculptures, Camille Claudel is thought to be the main model for several of his works, including the wavelike Danaide.

[edit] Art

[edit] Early work

One of his early works, The Age of Bronze, created during his years in Belgium and shown at the Paris Salon of 1877, looked so realistic that the sculptor was accused of surmoulage (taking plaster moulds from the live model).

Rodin struggled to clear his name and in 1880 was awarded the commission to create a portal for the planned Museum of Decorative Arts. Although the museum was never built, Rodin worked for 37 years on this monumental sculptural group, The Gates of Hell, depicting scenes from Dante's Inferno in high relief.

Many of his best-known sculptures, such as The Thinker (Le Penseur, originally titled The Poet, representing the poet Dante), The Three Shades (Les Trois Ombres), and The Kiss (Le Baiser) were designed as figures for this monumental composition of eternal passion and punishment, and only later presented as separate and independent works. Other well-known works derived from The Gates are the Ugolino group, Fugitive Love, The Falling Man, The Sirens, Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone, Damned Women, The Standing Fauness, The Kneeling Fauness, The Martyr, She Who Once Was the Beautiful Helmetmaker's Wife, Glaucus, Polyphem.

[edit] Methods

Through his method of marcottage (layering), he used the same sculptural elements time and time again, under different names and in different combinations.

Instead of copying traditional academic postures, Rodin preferred to work with amateur models, street performers, acrobats, strong men and dancers. In his atelier, the models walked around freely while the sculptor made quick sketches in clay, which were later fine-tuned, cast in plaster, and forged into bronze or carved in marble. Rodin was fascinated by dance and spontaneous movement; his John the Baptist shows a walking preacher, displaying two phases of the same stride simultaneously.

As France's best-known sculptor, he had a large staff of pupils, craftsmen, and stone cutters working for him, including the Czech sculptors Josef Maratka and Joseph Kratina. He created a number of society portrait busts, especially for wealthy American collectors, and began presenting fragmentary sculptures, which in his opinion contained the essence of his artistic statement, like Meditation without Arms, Iris, Messenger of the Gods or The Walking Man.

Although they shared an atelier at a small old castle (68 Boulevard d'Italie, Paris), Rodin refused to relinquish his ties to Rose Beuret, his loyal companion during his years of poverty in Belgium and birth-mother of his son Auguste-Eugène Beuret, born January 18, 1866. He never fulfilled a contract with Claudel to give up all contact with other women, and marry her. After nearly 15 years, the couple parted. Claudel followed her own path artistically, but found herself isolated.

[edit] Later work

Commissioned to create a monument to Victor Hugo in the 1890s, Rodin dealt extensively with the subject of artist and muse, reflecting the various aspects of his stormy and complex relationship with Claudel in The Poet and Love, The Genius and Pity, and The Sculptor and his Muse. Like many of Rodin's public commissions, Monument to Victor Hugo met resistance because it did not fit conventional expectations. The 1897 plaster model was not cast in bronze until 1964.

His Monument to Balzac, exhibited at the 1898 salon at the Champ des Mars showing the writer in his morning frock, was repudiated as well. After the frustrating experience, Rodin did not finish any public commissions. Instead, after 1903 he had his most successful works enlarged to monumental dimensions.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, then president of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, invited Rodin to display his work at the Society's 1898 exhibition. This did not occur without difficulties: some of the pieces proposed by Rodin did not find favour with Whistler, and several works sustained damage while in transit. After Whistler's death in 1903, Rodin was elected president of the Society. His election to the prestigious position was largely due to the efforts of Albert Ludovici (the father of Anthony Ludovici).

During his last creative years, Rodin concentrated on small dance studies (ca. 1915), and produced numerous erotic drawings, sketched in a loose way, without taking his pencil from the paper or his eyes from the model. An exhibition of these drawings in Weimar in 1906 caused the so-called Kessler scandal, and Harry Count Kessler was dismissed as curator of the Weimar Museum.

[edit] Death

On January 29, 1917, Rodin finally married Rose Beuret; she died two weeks later, on February 16.<ref name="nyt171117">"Auguste Rodin Gravely Ill", The New York Times, November 17, 1917, p. 13.</ref> Rodin was ill that year; in January, he suffered weakness from influenza,<ref>"Auguste Rodin Has Grip", The New York Times, January 30, 1917, p. 3.</ref> and on November 16 his physician made a statement that "[c]ongestion of the lungs has caused great weakness. The patient's condition is grave."<ref name="nyt171117"/> Rodin died the following day, age 77, at his Meudon villa on the outskirts of Paris.<ref name="nytobit">"Rodin, Famous Sculptor, Dead", The New York Times, November 18, 1917, p. E3.</ref> A cast of The Thinker was placed next to his tomb in Meudon, Île-de-France.

[edit] Locations of Rodin sculpture

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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Auguste Rodin

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