Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin
55 records
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was one of greatest, most prolific artists of all time. The irresistible appeal of the vibrant modelling, erotic subjects, and impassioned emotional energy of his sculptures accounts for the uncontested popularity of his work. In his own day he was continuously in the public eye, and his activities were debated constantly in the press. He had the first one-man retrospective exhibition in Paris (1900), and his fame spread quickly to the United States, where some of the most extensive collections of his sculptures were formed. The desire in the United States for his sculptures was phenomenal during his lifetime and remains so to this day. His work represents one of the largest concentrations of that of any artist in LACMA.

The first Rodin sculpture to enter the museum's collection was Mr. and Mrs. Allan Balch's cast of Eternal Spring, given in 1945. This was one of Rodin's most sensual compositions, first created around 1884, when his experiments with the Gates of Hell (commissioned in 1880) unleashed his imagination. Eternal Spring was produced in dozens of examples by the leading commercial foundry of Rodin's time, Leblanc-Barbédienne, which acquired from Rodin the right to cast it in 1898.

Another early gift, a bronze Female Centaur, came with the de Sylva collection, which was primarily devoted to Impressionist art. Rodin suggested one interpretation of this figure as the struggle between the soul and the earthbound body in which it is trapped. Beginning with a model for an equestrian monument, Rodin grafted to it part of another figure known as Despairing Youth, but transformed this into an elongated female torso, full of dramatic élan and reaching imploringly into space.

A cast of the Fallen Caryatid with her Stone and a portrait of the journalist Gustave Geffroy, one of Rodin's unwavering defenders, were also offered to the museum, but a nude study of Balzac (given in 1967) and the Large Head of Iris (given in 1969) were the prelude to the donation, in 1973, of about two dozen Rodin sculptures from B. Gerald Cantor, a financier whose fascination with Rodin's work began in the mid-1940s when he saw an example of the Hand of God in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cantor's interest in Los Angeles awoke soon afterwards when he came to California to explore innovations in the market of government securities. Three other significant Rodin sculptures were offered in 1972: the decorative bust Suzon (1872; the model continued to be cast until 1939) originally created during Rodin's sojourn in Belgium, and two examples of the Minotaur and Nymph (c. 1886), one of Rodin's most popular small erotic compositions.

B. Gerald Cantor's single gesture in 1973 offered a coherent overview of Rodin's career, from the early Saint John the Baptist Preaching (1878; cast 1966) to the late (c. 1900–1910) enlarged adaptations of pre-existing compositions like The Prodigal Son, The Large Crouching Woman, and The Earth, all originally conceived about twenty years earlier for the Gates of Hell. Individual figures, such as Jean d’Aire and Jean de Fiennes , created for the Burghers of Calais (1889), and compositions related to the Monument to Victor Hugo (1890) were included, as were portraits, recombined fragments, and independent subjects. The most dramatic single sculpture was certainly the ninth cast of the colossal Monument to Balzac, which is prominently installed in front of the museum. These were cast posthumously as authorized by Rodin's will.

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation continued to augment the collection in Los Angeles and enriched their context through donations of more photographs of Rodin, works on paper, and sculptures by Rodin’s 19 th-century predecessors and contemporaries. Iris Cantor made possible further noteworthy gifts to LACMA from the Cantor Foundation: these include a plaster Crouching Woman inscribed by Rodin to the playwright Auguste-Jean Richepin (Sarah Bernhardt's preferred companion), the famous marble example of the Severed Head of Saint John the Baptist originally offered by Rodin to the queen of Belgium in 1916, and three very rare examples of Rodin’s early work in porcelain ( The Tomb; Mother and Child; and Limbo) that date from the time he was employed at the Sèvres manufactory (1880-81) by the sculptor Albert-Eugène Carrier-Belleuse.

Rodin’s best-known creation, The Thinker, is not represented at LACMA, but the Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena) has a full-size cast of it, as well as an example of the Monument to the Burghers of Calais. A cast of The Walking Man is at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

- Mary Levkoff (2005)