Rodin: The Origins of Genius (1864-1884)
20th November 2010 - 20th March 2011
The exhibition is organised by the City of Legnano and the Musée Rodin in Paris, which has chosen Legnano for the most important exhibiton dedicated to Auguste Rodin ever held in Italy.
François-Auguste-René Rodin is the author of one of the most important artistic revolutions in Western art. Trained at the École Speciale de Dessin et Mathématiques, following first the courses in design of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, then sculpture classes, from 1864-1870 he worked in the studio of Louis Carrier-Belleuse, with whom he executed the designs for the Brussels Stock Exchange. Refused by the Salon, he left for Italy where he studied the works of Michelangelo.
In 1880 he was commissioned to make the bronze door for the new Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Rodin chose a subject from Dante: the famous Gates of Hell. These were the years of his greatest masterpieces, the period when his sculpture changed from modern to contemporary.
Video report (in Italian) by exibart.tv:
|St John the Baptist|
At Legnano, for the first time in Italy, 19 paintings will be exhibited, for the most part views of the forest of Soignes in Belgium, conserved in the archives of the Musée Rodin in Paris. From Belgium, Rodin's artistic journey moves to the Paris of the Salon, then to Florence, where the Master encounters the works of Michelangelo and Ghiberti, but also the extraordinary poetic force of Dante. These three elements are in fact the major influences that lead Rodin to create The Gates of Hell, which blend Italian and French traditions.
|Man with Broken Nose|
Originally named The Poet, The Thinker was part of a monumental bronze door, The Gates of Hell, commissioned from Rodin as the entrance door of a proposed Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris which in reality never came to fruition. Rodin chose to depict a theme dear to him, namely Dante's universe of the Divine Comedy, which at the time was considerd a work rich in Romantic and adventurous ideas, which furthermore Rodin had been familiar with since the days of the Petit Ecole. Each figure he created was one of the major characters of the poem. The Thinker was intended to represent Dante before the gates of Hell, meditating on his great work. The statue is a nude, as Rodin wanted a heroic figure in Michelangelo's mold, representing both intellect and poetry. It is not hard to recognise in The Thinker the splendid figure of Il Penseroso, sculpted by Michelangelo for the tomb of Lorenzo de'Medici, Duke of Urbino, located in the New Sacristy of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence. Sat atop a rock in the centre of the tympanum, in solitary meditation, Dante looks down towards the tragic, terrible world of the damned. Within a few years, however, the figure was 'detached' from the work - which remained unfinished - and was transformed into a new image of more universal symbolic import, changing from Dante into a modern thinker, the symbol of man's naked being, meditating on his own destiny and reflecting maturely on the sorrows that await him.
|The Bronze Age|
|Young Woman Wearing a Floral Hat|
In Looking at the Masters, one can see the studies after Rubens, and more studies of Italian Masters such as Donatello, Michelangelo and Titian, made during Rodin's first visit to Italy, which took in Rome and Florence, in particular the basilica of San Lorenzo, where he became so enamoured of Dante and his Divine Comedy.
|Bust of Carrier-Belleuse|
|The Gates of Hell|
|The Three Shades|
|The Falling Man|
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue (in Italian) published by Umberto Allemandi & Co., with contributions by the curators and by Catherine Lampert, Barbara Musetti, June Hargrove and François Blanchetière. The book is also available in digital format.
(extracts from the official exhibition guide translated by A Curran)
Official exhibition page (in Italian)
Musée Rodin, Paris
|The Squatting Woman|
The Gates of Hell
Video by canal-educatif.fr
Running time: 26:46
This video explains why there are two different versions of the same artwork, and why Rodin remained obsessed by the Gates until his death. It shows how the artist managed to solve major aesthetic issues that faced modern artists at that time.
A BBC Omnibus production made in 1986
Running time: 01:12:06