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Artists Auguste Rodin
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Auguste Rodin

French Sculptor

Movement: Symbolism

Born: November 12, 1840 - Paris, France

Died: November 10, 1917 - Meudon, France

Auguste Rodin Timeline

"To any artist, worthy of the name, all in nature is beautiful, because his eyes, fearlessly accepting all exterior truth, read there, as in an open book, all the inner truth."

Auguste Rodin Signature

Summary

François-Auguste-René Rodin's story recalls the archetypal struggle of the modern artist. He was born in obscurity and, despite showing early promise, rejected by the official academies. He spent years laboring as an ornamental sculptor before success and scandal set him on the road to international fame. By the time of his death, he was likened to Michelangelo. His reputation as the father of modern sculpture remains unchanged, and in recent years the wider exhibition of his many drawings has also elevated his reputation as a draughtsman. However, his many intimate - some have suggested exploitative - drawings of his models have altered the nature of the traditional respect paid to this eminent artist.

Key Ideas

Rodin stripped away many of the narative references to classical myth that were still attached to academic sculpture in the late-19th century and placed a new stress on the dignity of simple human moments. The fame of works such as The Kiss (1884), The Thinker (1880), and The Age of Bronze (1876) has transformed such depictions into paragons of high art, yet until Rodin's age, such sculpture's importance and novelty was not appreciated. Instead of representing gods or muses, he sculpted lifelike figures in distinctly modern attitudes of love, thought, and proud physicality.
Rodin's achievement as a sculptor was to find a way to make the brute materiality of sculpture express the fleeting mobility of the modern individual. To achieve this, he abandoned the polished and idealized figures of academic sculpture and produced rougher, more unfinished surfaces, which better expressed restlessness, corporeality, and movement. While this often suggests psychological agitation, it also evokes the constant motion characteristic of life in modern times.
Rodin's work process often encouraged him to reuse compositions in different ways. Most famously, figures that appear in his The Gates of Hell were often rendered at later dates, created separately and at different scales. But Rodin would also represent the same figure multiple times in the same sculpture or fragment figures into individual body parts like hands or arms. All of these processes were encouraged by his very unclassical approach to composition, and they produced strange and jarring effects.
Auguste Rodin Photo

Rodin was born in a poor area of Paris's fifth arrondissement to Jean-Baptiste Rodin, an office clerk in the local police station, and Marie Cheffer, his second wife. Despite Jean-Baptiste's modest earnings, he and Marie attempted to provide a bourgeois upbringing by sending Rodin to a boarding school in Beauvais. He was not a successful student, perhaps in part because of his shortsightedness. In 1854, aged 13, he decided to pursue a career in the arts, attending the École Spéciale de Dessin et de Mathematiques (or "Petite École," to distinguish it from the Grande École des Beaux-Arts), which trained boys in the decorative arts.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Auguste Rodin
Interactive chart with Auguste Rodin's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

MichelangeloMichelangelo
DonatelloDonatello
Antoine-Louis BaryeAntoine-Louis Barye

Personal Contacts

Émile ZolaÉmile Zola
Octave MirbeauOctave Mirbeau

Movements

Classical ArtClassical Art
RenaissanceRenaissance
ImpressionismImpressionism

Influences on Artist
Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin
Years Worked: 1854 - 1917
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Michelangelo AntonioniMichelangelo Antonioni
Umberto BoccioniUmberto Boccioni
Raymond Duchamp-VillonRaymond Duchamp-Villon
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse

Personal Contacts

Camille ClaudelCamille Claudel
Rainer Maria RilkeRainer Maria Rilke
Loie FullerLoie Fuller
Judith CladelJudith Cladel

Movements

Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
ExpressionismExpressionism
CubismCubism
FuturismFuturism

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Content compiled and written by Julia Brucker

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Julia Brucker
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 22 Jan 2012. Updated and modified regularly.
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