Artful Sculptures: Rodin at the Chicago Art Institute

Recently Dale and I went to the Art Institute for a special exhibit of sculptures by Rodin (1840-19170, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death.
Robert Louis Stevenson called Rodin the “master of visual communication.”


I Am Beautiful, modeled 1882, casted about 1889-1892, bronze

All of Rodin’s sculptures are reproductions of his original clay models. Many of the ones on display were from private collections.


The Hand of God, modeled 1898, cast date 1920s or earlier, bronze

The Hand of God was conceived as the creation of Adam and Eve, which Rodin imagined as an act of sculpting.


The Thinker, modeled 1880, cast date under research, bronze (side view)

Probably Rodin’s most famous sculpture, Rodin suggests the extreme physicality of mental activity, not only in his facial features but in every muscle of his arms, back and legs.


The Thinker, front view


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Despair, modeled between 1885-90, carved 1893 (?), marble


In Despair, Rodin invented a new pose – the figure’s act of stretching out and at the same time folding her body inward is evocative of emotional distress. This is the first example of this work; later plaster casts were taken to reproduce it in bronze.


Eternal Springtime, modeled about 1884, cast about 1910-mid 1920s, bronze

This vision of two young lovers was one of Rodin’s most popular compositions. Exact examples of it are extremely rare because it was technically difficult to produce. This bronze is the same version of the plaster that Rodin gave to Robert Louis Stevenson. Many later versions were made by adding a support for the male figure’s arms and legs.


Eve, modeled 1883, carved 1888 or earlier, marble

Rodin contracted specialist practitioners to carve multiple versions of Eve in marble, but no two are exactly alike. These two examples are among the earliest created; the example in front was produced in pure white marble, while the example on the right (which belongs to the Art Institute’s permanent collection) was made with a deeply veined marble.


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