Three Shades
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cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

Rodin's remix on his own remix of Adam from the Sistine Chapel. It's an Inception of Adams.

I'll save you some time, it's the same figure at (shocker) three slightly different angles. Rodin really wanted people to experience the pose all at once. Be warned, though. If you linger around the statue's well-developed backsides for too long, your date is probably going to ask what you're doing. Just tell the truth. You're looking for the star like on the P.F. Chang's horses.

The Three Shades started out as one figure to the left of Rodin's unfinished The Gates of Hell. He wanted to have a life size Adam (full disclosure: the pose was ripped off and tipped upright from Michelangelo's reclined version in the Sistine Chapel) and Eve flanking the Gates. But, the government didn't want the Adam or the Eve. So Rodin copy-pasted the Adam and put it up top as The Three Shades. Crowning The Gates of Hell with a big middle finger to the government's artistic meddling. He sold the idea well, though. In The Divine Comedy, the shades are souls of the damned who point to the famous inscription above the portal. "Abandon all hope, etc. etc." Basically being smart asses. We didn't come to hell thinking it would be a good time, shades.

Their hands fell off by accident, but Rodin liked it (or maybe was in a hurry and didn't want to start over). Hands are one of Rodin's favorite body parts. He really had his heart set on an idea that hands are where people meet and interact with the world. So you know that his leaving them off The Three Shades was a heart wrenching decision. If you're looking at this piece inside the Cantor Center and think to yourself, "Oh dear, I'm distraught with an all-consuming need to see The Three Shades con manos. ¡Con manos!" Well, don't fret. The Rodin Garden just to the left of the main entrance has your, errr, hands. A larger-than-life Three Shades is out there, looking just tickled as they fist away at the world.

rzarlif's picture


It’s the same muscular hunk three times over. With that physique you’d think he’d be good and happy. But no. For Rodin life, or at least art, is with few exceptions suffering, the agony and torment. The naked guy(s) in Three Shades, with their necks craned way too far out, are gaping with distress at something below. What’s below is hell, and more specifically the Gates of Hell, where they appear to be heading sharpishly. No wonder they're upset.