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Review: Auguste Rodin/Loyola University Museum of Art

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Why does Rodin remain the most popular figure sculptor since Michelangelo? Regarding one admirer, the story goes that in 1945, a 29-year-old Wall-Street financier, B. Gerald Cantor, wandered into the Met and was touched by Rodin’s “Hand of God.” That same year Cantor co-founded the global securities giant, Cantor Fitzgerald, and as he became a wealthy man he began to collect about 750 statues, drawings, prints and letters by the great master, thirty-six of which (including a version of that hand) are now visiting Chicago.

Will you be touched as well? To make the experience more educational, each has been accompanied by text written by Rodin himself, sometimes even mentioning a specific piece. “I tried in ‘Balzac’ to find an art that is not photography in sculpture. My principle is to imitate not only form but life.” If only that direction were taken more often by the figure sculptors of today! But Rodin’s work also reflects his status as an art superstar whose every expression, however brief and unresolved, is celebrated as genius. So, the best place to see Rodin in Chicago remains the Art Institute, where his earlier pieces, like “Walking Man,” “Adam,” and one of the “Burghers of Calais” can be found.

There is also an issue with quality of bronze copies because even if a cast is legally one of the twelve “original” copies, all original casts are not the same. The turbulent surface of a Rodin sculpture requires more than merely technical skill at the foundry, and selecting a good cast is not like buying a blue chip stock. It’s too bad that Cantor’s love of sculpture seems to have never progressed beyond a blind adulation (and calculated investment) for a single artist. And it’s also too bad that LUMA has yet to display any of the great twentieth-century liturgical sculpture from its own Christian tradition, the kind of work that no secular museum will now exhibit. The only Christian piece in this show is a portrait of Pope Benedict XV—and according to the artist’s comment posted beside it, the Pope was only willing to pose for one hour, while the sculptor was not willing to work from photographs. But it’s still a good head because, after all, Rodin really was a genius. (Chris Miller)

Through August 16 at the Loyola University Museum of Art, 820 N. Michigan.

3 Responses to “Review: Auguste Rodin/Loyola University Museum of Art”

  1. gwarseneau Says:

    August 8, 2009

    The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s “Rodin: In His Own Words” exhibition, at Loyola University Museum of Art, contains -no- sculptures.

    This avarice does contain just six possible lifetime reproductions with at least twenty-nine posthumous (1925-1995) forgeries, falsely attributed to Auguste Rodin (d 1917) with counterfeit “A Rodin” signatures applied.

    The dead don’t sculpt, much less sign anything.

    Therefore, in the interest of Auguste Rodin’s true legacy, legitimate sculptors and the public as a whole, my posted online monograph documents that in violation of Auguste Rodin’s 1916 Will, a corrupt Musee Rodin: 1) does not reproduce in bronze from Auguste Rodin’s original plasters, 2) posthumously applies counterfeit “Rodin” or “A. Rodin” signatures to their second-generation-removed -FAKES-, 3) does not limit editions to twelve as promoted, 4) has allowed the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation to pick the color/patina of a bronze they in turn promote as an original Auguste Rodin and 5) falsely attributes life-casts and altered work to Auguste Rodin.

    The link to my monograph is:

    Gary Arseneau
    artist, creator of original lithographs & scholar
    Fernandina Beach, Florida

  2. mountshang Says:

    I’ve got no problem with reproductions or forgeries of Rodin, Gary, as long as they look good.

    Similarly, I have no special respect for the statues cast or carved in Rodin’s lifetime if they look bad — and since that’s how many such “originals” appear to me, I get the feeling that Rodin himself had a laissez-faire attitude towards the dissemination of his work as long as he got paid. (example: the awful cast of “The Kiss” that accompanied the Edvard Munch exhibit at the A.I.C. this year)

    I welcome exhibits of good reproductions, although the quality does depend so much on the eye of the curator.

    Coincidentally, L.U.M.A.’s inaugural exhibit, back in 2005, featured life-size photo reproductions of the work of Caravaggio. A great idea! But regretfully, the harsh back-lighting washed out all the subtle half-tones.

    If anything, these bad Rodin exhibits should at least give us greater respect for the anonymous foundry workers who often did such a good job a hundred years ago.

    They should be honored as artists — just like the famous Classical musicians who give such wonderful performances of work they did not compose.

  3. gwarseneau Says:

    August 14, 2009

    I hope you remember that perspective someday if you are unfortunate enough to receive counterfeit money instead of the real thing. You may not think it matters but the moment you try to use it, the Secret Service will.

    Additionally, if a Loyola University student brought something to class they didn’t create, much less sign, and tried to pass it off as if they did and got caught, what would happen?

    Finally, at least 29 of the 35 odd so-called Rodins were posthumously forged between 1925 and 1995 some 14 to 84 years -Auguste Rodin (d. 1917)- and listed in the Cantor Foundation’s catalogue as “Signed A Rodin.”

    How’d he do that?


    Gary Arseneau
    artist, creator of original lithographs & scholar
    Fernandina Beach, Florida

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