Thursday, December 8, 2011

Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin was a French sculptor who was born and raised in Paris. Despite his classical training and becoming well known in the late 19th century (and being world-renowned by the turn of the century), he never received academic recognition from the art world until after his death. His realistic style pulled away from the classical style that can be seen in other works of that time (more specifically Greek and Roman); exhibiting the natural features and musculature of his models, rather than over-exaggerating the figures and having a mythological or allegorical basis. This stray from conventionality stirred much controversy and rumors of cast making, which followed Rodin for some time until his exhibit of "Saint John the Baptist" which was larger than life-size and still showed his own personal style and technique. Several of his later pieces were inspired by events and people in his personal life, his mistress and colleague (Camille Claudel) in particular. She posed as a model for several of his pieces and was the source of the inspiration for the many depictions of lovers in passionate embraces. Long before knowing anything about Rodin, or even knowing that it was his work I was looking at, I was and still am greatly inspired by his work. Knowing that he became a success despite his challenges, only deepened that respect. In my opinion, the beauty of natural form and humanity he captured sets his work apart, which is a repeating theme in his work. Below I've also posted a brief biography from

"(born Nov. 12, 1840, Paris, France — died Nov. 17, 1917, Meudon) French sculptor. Insolvent and repeatedly rejected by the École des Beaux-Arts, he earned his living by doing decorative stonework. Not until his late 30s, after a trip to Italy, did he develop a personal style free of academic restraints and establish his reputation as a sculptor with The Age of Bronze(exhibited 1878), whose realism was so great that he was accused of forming its mold on a living person. His Gates of Hell, a bronze door commissioned in 1880 for a proposed Musée des Arts Décoratifs, remained unfinished at his death, but two of its many figures were the bases of his most famous images, The Thinker (1880) and The Kiss (1886). His portraits include monumental figures of Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac. Though these and many other works caused controversy for their unconventionality, he was successful enough that he could establish a workshop where he executed only molds, leaving the casting of bronze and the carving of marble to assistants. To his sculpture he added book illustrations, etchings, and numerous drawings, mostly of female nudes. He revitalized sculpture as an art of personal expression and has been considered one of its greatest portraitists.

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