Musée Rodin audio commentary notes

Rodin’s goals:
* repetition and regularity, balance of light and shade, and geometry in body posture.
* absence of clothes and symbols makes the alleghory timeless (Gates of Hell)
* Cohesion, balance, and, beauty
* Assembly of dematerialize form parts into fresh forms/assemblages/configurations
* form more important than figures

(1) Object 33 on tour – Cohesion, balance, beauty. From 1900 cracked new assemblages. Same group of figures at different angles such as the three Adam’s atop the Gates of Hell. In object 33 figure juxtaposed with branch adding a touch of nature that gives emphasis to repetition and addition of depth.

Composition (object 33) went against principles of Academy at the time. In Classical thinking on sculpture composition was central. And the link between the part and the whole was a cornerstone. Hierarchy was to be established between each figure. And within each figure between the different parts.

Rodin broke tradition. His composition was additional. He placed all the features on the same level. He cared little for joins and stitching. He juxtaposed opposites such as female body and male torso. Contrasted material and colors. Allowed himself great freedom with assembly. And showed a predilection for hands and heads. All he cared for was cohesion, balance, and, beauty.

(2) Assemblage – putting together existing work to create fresh work. Perhaps reflection of ornamental sculptors (many of whom worked with Rodin) who constructed more than one component of each piece. Looked at both lines that formed the figures but cared also for empty spaces between figures. Arrangement of forms in space such that when well modelled or formed figures approach each other they would then form groups themselves.

(3) Object 39 – Meditations – homage to Hugo and his inner voice whispering in poet’s ear. Liked that so much that damaged object’s left knee, right leg, arm so as to prevent the inner voice/body from leaving Hugo.

(4) Marble treatment is illusionist. Sought to render appearance of fabric such as lace, flowers, hair in surface texture. Rodin plays with ill defined borders between the sculpture and its base.

(5) Gates of Hell – Dante’s journey through hell, purgatory, and, paradise. Bodies naked since figures eternally damned. High relief. Polished smooth bodies combined with rough surfaces.

Source: Musée Rodin’s audio commentary, visit of 2012-10-26

1896, Patinated plaster, H. 147 cm; W. 76 cm; D. 55 cms; Museum no. S.1125


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