ARTYFACTS: Rodin - Royal Academy

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rodin - Royal Academy

We visited the Rodin's studio in Paris 30 years ago, and I can still remember being taken aback by the erotic, if not pornographic, nature of some of the work.

The Gates of Hell
These greet you in the courtyard but seeing the huge bronze doors on their own, isolated in the cold outside air diminished their impact. the figures climb, hang on, dive out and struggle to keep grip and it's a door one will never have seen anywhere else. But a door is an entrance to somewhere else and this is where the peice fails and becomes a huge rectangular structure. They never did adorn the proposed Museum of Decorative Arts.

Rodin and Britain
One of the themes is Rodin in Britain, but judging by the exhibits of those flouncy aristocrats who commissioned busts of themselves in pretty little poses, this didn't seem to do him much good. I'd have much rather seen him deliver images of these pampered celebrities in pornographic poses, legs akimbo - now that would have impressed!

The Thinker, The Kiss, Victor Hugo, Burghers of Calias and Balzac
These are the five iconic pieces and they're knock-out. Having been to Florence in the past year Michelangelo and Donatello are there in the room but Rodin throws idealised poses to one side to give us broken noses, huge hands and feet and in Balzac's case an almost Elephant Man's physique.


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