Rodin by Ken Wayne Painting of Rodin by Emily Paul
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) revolutionized nineteenth-century French sculpture...
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) revolutionized nineteenth-century French sculpture and was considered, both during his lifetime and afterwards, to be the most important sculptor since Michelangelo. Indeed, he is felt to be the father of modern sculpture and the single-most important sculptor of the modern period. Finding nineteenth-century academic sculpture to be stale, lifeless and boring, Rodin consciously sought to reinvigorate the sculpture medium by injecting passion, feeling and emotion. He avoided the literalness of academic sculpture by introducing the modernist qualities of ambiguity and open-ended meaning whereby sculpture could have several meanings at once instead of just one. An excellent example is his famous work The Thinker. What is he thinking? Who is he? Why is he naked? Rodin also expanded the range of subjects for sculpture, not limiting it to historical and religious figures or scenes.
Another of his major contributions to modern sculpture was the fragment or partial figure, which he felt held great power and mystery. He did not want to limit himself to full figures. He got the idea for making partial figures from the many ancient fragments which were surfacing on the Paris art market in the late nineteenth century following archaeological digs. If we can admire and revere the many broken and partial ancient figures, such as the Venus de Milo, why can we not make such figures? He saw himself as the true heir to Phidias, the ancient sculptor, and wanted to return sculpture to its rightful path after it had lost its way because of academic sculptors. Like the ancients, he wanted to create sculpture that embodied his time.
–photo by dellas