De chair et de marbre
De chair et de marbre
Past: June 8, 2012 → September 1, 2013
Long disregarded by critics for historical and aesthetic reasons, marble sculpture nonetheless constitutes a very important part of Rodin’s art that it seemed pertinent to examine anew in this exhibition. The artist had a special relationship with this matter of marble, and his contemporaries saw him as a “dominator of stone” before whom “marble trembled”. Contrary to common assumption, his marble sculptures, far from being conventional, give life and form to the modern soul, “this dislocated, brutal and delicate psyche, spirited and weary, fervent and yet tending towards the negative”. Not content merely to call upon his sense of plastic synthesis, the sculptor is adept at bring life to a classical material that is, a priori, given to immobility.
The question of the materials employed in art is not simply a matter of technique. A strong symbolic dimension is part of the choice, and so marble takes us back to Antiquity, to the myths of ancient Greece, and to Italy of the Renaissance through the figure of Michelangelo. Marble is also considered to be the material that most resembles the flesh; hard and cold, it must become warm and supple as it is transmuted beneath the artist’s chisel, demonstrating through the process both the artist’s virtuosity and his capacity to transform matter. Rodin is above all a modeller, like most of his contemporaries, and, from the beginning of his career, he called upon the service of practitioners. Nonetheless, his “style” is easy to identify in his sculptures, particularly his use of the non finito, which constitutes a virtual trademark, often imitated by other artists. Moreover, he was working in an era when “practice” was increasingly abandoned in favour of direct carving, or taille direct.
Works devoted exclusively to Rodin’s marble sculpture are rare, thus the catalogue of the exhibition, co-published with Hazan, fills an important gap, particularly in its exploration of the making of marble statuary (suppliers, practicians, etc.) from an angle that has rarely been studied before.
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