Rodin, the Centennial Exhibition

“The Thinker” and “The Kiss” are among the world’s most recognizable sculptures. Both were created by the French artist Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) and are part of an extensive retrospective of the artists work paying homage to the centenary of his death at the Grand Palais ((until July 31).

Both “The Thinker” and “The Kiss” were imagined by the artist as parts of a monumental sculpture “The Gates of Hell” based on Dante’s “Inferno.” The work was commissioned by the French Directorate of Fine Arts in 1880 to create an entrance to a planned Decorative Arts Museum. The project was never realized and eventually the original sculptures were enlarged becoming individual works of art on their own.

The exhibition revisits Rodin’s creative universe, his relationship with his audience and the way many subsequent artists have appropriated his style.  Featuring over 200 of Rodin’s works, it also includes sculptures and drawings by artists influenced by Rodin such as Bourdelle, Brancusi, Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, Beuys, Baselitz and Gormley.

Rodin, considered the father of modern sculpture, was extremely successful during his lifetime with fans such as German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and Oscar Wilde. His income from portrait commissions alone totalled around 200,000 francs a year. But things did not always go smoothly for the artist. His “Monument to Balzac” sculpture, commissioned in 1891 by the Societé des Gens de Lettres, was rejected because it didn’t look enough like the writer. Rodin took it back to his home in Meudon where it stayed until 1939 (22 years after his death) when the model was cast in bronze for the first time and placed on the intersection of Bd Montparnasse and Raspail.

“Rodin, l’exposition du centenaire,” to July 31, 2017, Grand Palais, Paris