South African art lovers had the rare opportunity to view 27 bronze sculptures by legendary French sculptor, Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917). Amongst the bronzes on exhibit were famous works such as The Thinker, The Kiss and The Cathedral. The exhibition opened on 21 August 2008 and closed in 2010. However The Kiss is currently still on exhibit.
At the height of his career, Auguste Rodin was regarded as the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo. Straying from 19th century academic conventions, Rodin created his own sense of personal artistic expression that focused on the vitality of the human spirit. His modelling techniques captured the movement and depth of emotion of his subjects by altering traditional poses and gestures. His pioneering work has been a critical link between traditional and modern figurative sculpture.
Rodin had a profound influence on 20th century sculpture and his works are distinguished by their stunning strength and realism. He embraced all aspects of the human spirit, and his works confront distress and moral weakness, as well as passion and beauty.
About the artist
Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin was born in Paris, 12 November 1840. At 14 years he entered the Petite École, a school of decorative arts in Paris. He later applied three times to study at the renowned École des Beaux-Arts but was rejected each time. In 1858 he began to do decorative stonework in order to make his living. Four years later the death of his sister, Marie, so traumatised Rodin, that he entered a sacred order.
The Father Superior of the order recognized Rodin´s talents and encouraged him to pursue his art. In 1864 Rodin met seamstress, Rose Beuret, who became his life companion and model for many of his works.
In 1875, Rodin travelled to Italy where the works of Michelangelo made a strong impression on him. The trip inspired his sculpture The Age of Bronze, which was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1877. It caused a scandal because critics could not believe that Rodin had not used a casting of a live model in creating so realistic a work.
When Rodin was 76 years old he gave the French government the entire collection of his own works and other art objects he had acquired. These currently occupy the Hotel Biron in Paris as the Musée Rodin, and are still placed as Rodin originally set them. Rodin died on 17 November 1917, and was buried at Meudon.