The Rodin exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts promises to satisfy every art enthusiast. Including works on paper and sculptures in plaster, bronze, and marble, all are absolutely stunning. The first thing that struck me as I entered the show was his quote on the wall, “The hand of man, like the hand of God, can transform a soul and make it new.” And so we do, as artists, transform others by our creations big and small.
Rodin translated his concepts into physical form, often exaggerating and altering their scale so as to accentuate their emotive qualities. He thought about what a sculpture was going to express rather than the predetermined subject or image; how form could give rise to expression.
In his work there is a great sense of movement and motion. The Peabody Essex Museum hired dancers to perform throughout the exhibit to help emphasize that Rodin used live models, including dancers, to execute his works.
Rodin used plaster assemblage to further investigate his ideas, feeling that these investigations were ongoing and some works were never finished. He worked with experimentation and metamorphosis, rather than a sense of finality. In his words, “an object is always in rapport with what is in front, beside, behind, above, below. The relations are important.” This can be seen in many of his plaster assemblages.
Although Rodin produced many torsos without limbs, he had a knack for translating the emotion through his work; there is an intensity of feeling, without all of the information. He is said to have “created sculpture as an abstraction rather than a depiction of a subject.”
For me, the highlight was seeing The Thinker in person, something I have only read about in the history books. Its massive, yet delicate form, its presence and power, all prove Rodin’s greatness as both an artist and a great mind.