Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Auguste Rodin

Eternal Spring by Auguste Rodin
Everyone is familiar with Auguste Rodin's famous "The Thinker". I fell in love, however, with Rodin's ethereal sculptures such as the Eternal Kiss and Eternal Spring, as well as his less known watercolor drawings and sketches.

The Thinker by Rodin

Auguste Rodin was born in 1840 in Paris. The start of his education was mainly self-taught, until he started attending the Petite Ecole, a school with an emphasis on mathematics and art. He began to draw as early as ten, however. After leaving the school in 1856, Rodin worked as a craftsman and decorator or architectural structures. After his favorite sister's death, Rodin briefly turned to a Catholic order. The founder of the order recognized Rodin's talent and encouraged him to leave the order and continue with his artistic endeavors.

Auguste Rodin

Rose in a straw hat by Rodin
 Rodin had lived with a woman named Rose Beuret from 1864 until the rest of his life, although he would go on to have other mistresses. He had a son with Rose. In 1883 Rodin met an 18-year old Camille Claudel.She was also a sculptor at the studio where Rodin worked. Their relationship was fiery, passionate and volatile, and they influenced each other's work. Eventually, the double life took its toll and Rodin broke off with Claudel in 1898. Following the break up, Claudel suffered a mental breakdown and was committed to a mental institution for the rest of her life.

Rodin often worked in clay first before casting his sculptures in bronze or vied it in marble. This was a new way for a sculptor to work. Rodin held a strong belief that one's physical features revealed their character. He liked his models to move naturally and free around the studio.

Eternal Kiss by Rodin
In his later years, Rodin became internationally known and accepted. After decades as a couple, Rodin finally married Rose Beuret in 1917. Two weeks later, Rose died. Rodin, already sickly, died a few months later.
Rodin is considered the father of modern sculpture and his legacy is tremendous.

Idol by Rodin

Gates of Hell by Rodin

Minerva by Rodin
Book on Rodin's Drawings and Watercolors (available on Amazon)

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