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In Paris, RODIN, l’exposition du centenaire, at Le Grand Palais
25 March, 2017 - 26 March, 2017
To mark the centenary of his death, the Musée Rodin and Réunion des musées nationaux Grand Palais are joining forces to celebrate Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). The exhibition reveals Rodin’s creative universe, his relationship with his audience and the way in which sculptors have appropriated his style. Featuring over 200 of Rodin’s works, it also includes sculptures and drawings by Bourdelle, Brancusi, Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, Beuys, Baselitz and Gormley, shedding new light on this giant of sculpture.
Auguste Rodin, just like Monet and Picasso, was and remains a global phenomenon. He has fascinated the general public from generation to generation. Many artists have tried to equal his style, both through inspiration or in opposition. Rodin explored all facets of sculpture: from assemblage to partial figures and collage, practices inherited by Matisse and Picasso. His drawing technique pre-empted the major German expressionists, and his relationship with photography prefigured that of Brancusi and Moore.
The exhibition presents his work and the changes to our visual appreciation that it engendered. Rodin, the power of expression From the 1880s onward, Rodin was celebrated for breathing life into sculpture: “Sculpture has moved from convention to expression”. The human body provided the vocabulary of passions from which Rodin’s own expressionism emerged. It’s also the period of the “black drawings” – little known and rarely seen – which inspired the world of the future Gates of Hell. At this point, he himself knew how to use all of the means at his disposal to build his career – collectors, the press and exhibitions – at a time when the art market in Paris was booming. Younger sculptors such as Bourdelle, Lehmbruck, Gaudier-Brzeska and Brancusi all had their Rodin-inspired periods.
The exhibition of his work that Rodin organised in 1900, to coincide with the Exposition Universelle, brought him to the forefront of the artistic stage. He used it to display an unseen side of his work through a series of works in plaster, his preferred medium: this immaculate material is perfectly suited to this art of light and space. The exhibition of 1900 revealed a process of constant reinvention that was fundamentally experimental. The artist sometimes combined incongruous elements, using repetition and fragmentation of shapes, rethinking the sculptures’ position in a space.
The success he encountered led to a multiplication of versions, all different, that showed the sculptor developing his reflection. Bourdelle, Matisse, Brancusi and Picasso created their early works based on such techniques.