Artist
Auguste Rodin
French sculptor

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Auguste Rodin
French sculptor

Birth Date

November 12, 1840

Death Date

November 17, 1917

Sr. Contributor

Born poor to a police officer and seamstress, he ended his life baller status with the French government slavering to build a museum in his honor before he had even died. Receiving an honorary doctorate from Oxford University alongside Mark Twain gives an artist the right to call some shots.

His game-changing career was full of rejection. At 17, Rodin was thrice denied entrance to the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Entries to the French Salon were rejected for being out of style with current trends. Eventually, he labored as a stoneworker and decorative sculptor to make ends meet. Fame inexorably found Rodin in the wake of The Age of Bronze in 1877. The sculpture shocked the establishment, its eerie realism spreading rumors that Rodin had formed the mold upon a living person. Like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia taught us, a group always needs a wildcard. For the 19th century French art scene, Rodin was the wildcard. He was their Charlie.

After Age of Bronze, public and private commissions were readily available. Although, for years, Rodin kept making art people hated. His most prominent commissions were, separately, commemorating French luminaries Honore de Balzac and Victor Hugo. Neither ended well for Rodin. In both instances, the committee overseeing the project rejected Rodin's submissions as too shocking. The Hugo sculpture was a nude, which just wasn't going to happen. People would be looking at it, for gosh sakes. With the Balzac piece, Rodin missed deadlines for a decade finding the right feel. He even tracked down Balzac's tailor for exact measurements of the author's body. The final submission resulted in a lawsuit that lead to Rodin reimbursing the commissioning organization, essentially buying back the piece they asked him to make. Other works by Rodin caused riots in the streets upon installation. Rodin was a man who liked to watch the world burn. Or, he just couldn't give less of a crap about what people wanted from him.

The major relationship in his life was with Rose Beuret, a seamstress he met in 1864. They didn't marry until 1917, just weeks before her death. He liked it, but it took a while for him to put a ring on it. In between the start and culmination of the 53 year engagement, there were many affairs and dalliances. The most tempestuous of which began in his 50s with his 19-year old studio assistant named Camille Claudel. The affair with Camille was a decade-long endeavor that ended when Rodin refused to leave Rose, even after signing a formal contract stating he would. After the affair ended, Camille accused Rodin of plotting against her and appropriating her artistic ideas. She threw away her work and was interned in an asylum by her diplomat brother, where she lived for the next three decades until her death. While his artistic achievements are described today as the immediate precursor to modern sculpture, his way with the ladies shows that the wildcard with a beard is never a good choice.

Sources

Sources

  1. rodinmuseum.org/collections/collectiontheme/6.html
  2. metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rodn/hd_rodn.htm
  3. getty.edu/art/collection/artists/283/auguste-rodin-french-1840-1917/
  4. independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/how-rodins-tragic-lover-shapted-the-history-of-sculpture-.html

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Auguste Rodin

François Auguste René Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917), known as Auguste Rodin (/ˈɡst rˈdæn, rˈdæ̃/; French: [oɡyst ʁɔdɛ̃]), was a French sculptor. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past. He was schooled traditionally, took a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired academic recognition, although he was never accepted into Paris's foremost school of art.

Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface in clay. Many of his most notable sculptures were criticized during his lifetime. They clashed with predominant figurative sculpture traditions, in which works were decorative, formulaic, or highly thematic. Rodin's most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory, modeled the human body with realism, and celebrated individual character and physicality. Rodin was sensitive to the controversy surrounding his work, but refused to change his style. Successive works brought increasing favor from the government and the artistic community.

From the unexpected realism of his first major figure – inspired by his 1875 trip to Italy – to the unconventional memorials whose commissions he later sought, Rodin's reputation grew, and he became the preeminent French sculptor of his time. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist. Wealthy private clients sought Rodin's work after his World's Fair exhibit, and he kept company with a variety of high-profile intellectuals and artists. His students included Antoine Bourdelle, Camille Claudel, Constantin Brâncuși, and Charles Despiau. He married his lifelong companion, Rose Beuret, in the last year of both their lives. His sculptures suffered a decline in popularity after his death in 1917, but within a few decades, his legacy solidified. Rodin remains one of the few sculptors widely known outside the visual arts community.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Auguste Rodin.