I’ve loved works by Rodin since I first saw one. Going to the Rodin Museum in Paris, housed in the Hôtel Biron, where Rodin lived for a time, was a real treat.
Walking through the various rooms and see the exhibits, I came away with new insights about his creative process, a sort of “mix and match” approach.
One exhibit featured a variety of studies of arms, hands, legs, and feet. According to the Guide I purchased, he “built up a repertory of forms, into which he readily delved to complete his fragmentary figures, composing new groups and assemblages in a totally unprecedented manner.”
Rodin would also frequently rework figures included in “The Gates of Hell” into larger works, such as “The Kiss” . . .
. . . “The Thinker”. . .
. . . and “The Three Shades.”
It was also interesting to learn that the three figures in “The Three Shades” are identical, just positioned at slightly different angles around a central point.
Though I associate Rodin primarily with bronze sculptures, he also worked in marble and terra cotta, such as this charming bust.
Of course, there was a copy of “The Burghers of Calais,” like the one we had already seen in Calais. In addition, however, out in the sculpture garden we could view both nude and clothed studies of the individual figures.
When they are grouped together, it is difficult to see each one from all angles. But there in the garden, it was very easy to get a very close look at each one and see the expressiveness Rodin had imbued.
Besides the facial expressions of Rodin’s sculptures, I also took note of how he portrayed hands. I have read that hands are challenging to draw or paint. I don’t know to what extent this is true in three-dimensional art. But this awareness prompts me to often pay particular attention to how an artist renders hands.
In Rodin’s case, sometimes that was all there was.