“My drawings are the key to my work” once declared famous sculptor Auguste Rodin and the new exhibition of his 90 paper cut outs and 200 drawings at Musée Rodin is fascinating. It took five years in the making for curator Sophie Biass-Fabiani who has patiently classified sheets of drawings and esquisses. The result is a new look at Rodin’s huge talent.
All of these cut outs and drawings are part of the Rodin donation to the museum in 1916 except for six pieces kept at Princeton University and given by Rodin’s private secretary, René Chéruy, who emigrated to the States in 1908. They are spectacularly beautiful. What is interesting in the show, besides the beautiful layout, is the progression from cut out to drawing and sometimes to statue.
The show starts with drawings of the Gate to Hell between 1880 and 1889 including remarkable masks. Black drawings represent demons of Dante’s protagonists for his “Inferno”. Rodin draws on them with ink and pencil and white gouache. It thus proves that the drawings are contemporary to the casting of the bronze.
One study for the famous “Kiss” was acquired at auction last March. it shows well that Rodin had drawn first, in pencil and lavis, then cut out. the exceptional work of presentation adds to the interest of the pieces. Each cu tout has been glued so as to show a shadow and enhance the depth of the drawing. The four rooms fo the sho are particularly well presented and lit.
Some of the erotic papers are painted with red watercolor, some of the figures are alone or in couples, some scenes are very suggestive. The show is a huge success given the material. While Rodin used to draw on plaster and any surface, these cut out papers seem to have appeared from the closets, giving us a new light on his talent. Some of them reminded me irresistibly of tom Wesselman… What an anachronism!
Until February 24, Musée Rodin is closed on Mondays.
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