“I invent nothing, I rediscover”
To what extent can we believe in this saying by one of the world`s greatest sculptors? From one side – as Rodin became popular with the French royalties and received more and more orders he could then afford hiring other talented carvers who could accomplish the work according to his sketches. So in fact, it was not Rodin himself who carved the finished sculpture. From the other side – he has sparked his own vision on sculptures – moving from the traditional gods and divine creatures he created more realistic figures that depicted “the modern human being” with the real feelings and the thoughts (remember the famous “The Thinker” and “The Lovers”?)
Not being an art expert I definitely cannot say whether Auguste Rodin was the pioneer of the more simplified forms of sculptures, but I can point out a few interesting facts about his approach at work. If you have a quick look at my previous post on Frank Gehry (Tell me what do you see) and recall the concept of fluidity – keeping the initial design (the prototype) in the liquid state for as long as possible, you may now see that this same concept takes us a few centuries back: when Rodin was creating a few raw versions of the original work and experimenting for as long as was needed to be satisfied by the final outcome.
This fluidity characterizes not only Rodin`s working process but the sculptures themselves. The “unfinished” look (compared to the earlier sculptures of the epoch) left me with the impression of movement, change, feeling and emotions of the sculpture, making it alive. It is interesting how the human bodies of Rodin`s sculpture demonstrate the identity of the characters and is assigned with a different meaning by each viewer. The ‘body view’ of identity dates back to Aristotle meaning that human body reflects the identity and with years as the body constantly changes, the identity changes as well. The adherents of the ‘body view’ even claim that the body shapes the person in a way.
Having seen a few sculptures of Rodin (there is one in Jardins de Tuileries where I go every time I am in Paris) and having researched a bit on his background I shaped a new vision of his artwork. However, the gardens are full of other, more traditional works (such as Le Nil by Lorenzo Ottone) which all have a long story behind them.