Rodin's Obsession, The Gates of Hell
Selections from the
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection
October 2 - December 14, 2001
Emily Lowe Gallery
This exhibition focuses on the figures included in Auguste Rodin's (French, 1840-1917) monumental work The Gates of Hell. Many of the figures were exhibited independently as freestanding sculptures, such as The Thinker (below) and The Kiss (right). The exhibition also includes a display illustrating the lost-wax casting process and a video detailing the bronze casting of The Gates of Hell.
In 1880 Rodin was awarded the commission to complete a "decorative portal" for a proposed museum of decorative arts. The subject of the great doors was drawn from The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) and was undoubtedly chosen by Rodin himself. As Rodin's ideas developed he gradually abandoned the concept of correlating his sculpture to specific narratives from The Inferno. Instead he moved toward a more general depiction of mankind's suffering and search for redemption. Rodin created a complex composition in which hundreds of figures, modeled in high relief and in the round, float and weave in a surging arrangement conveying the suffering of mankind.
At the height of his career, 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 vigorous modeling technique was subjective and impressionistic; he captured movement and depth of emotion by altering traditional poses and gestures. His pioneering work has been a critical link between traditional and modern figurative sculpture.
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