Rodin’s Influential Artwork at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Posted on May 22 by SEASONS Magazine

Auguste Rodin, Saint John the Baptist, 1880. Bronze. Musée Rodin, Paris.

Auguste Rodin, Saint John the Baptist, 1880. Bronze. Musée Rodin, Paris.

Beginning in May, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1130 State St.) will feature a sculpture by Rodin alongside six other works that were greatly influenced by Rodin in the Ludington Court.

Auguste Rodin is the father of the modern sculpture and the most influential sculptor of the 19th century. Rodin had an epiphany concerning his art after seeing the art of Michelangelo during a visit to Italy in 1876. Rodin later told one of his star pupils, Antoine Bourdelle, “It was Michelangelo who liberated me from academism.”

Auguste Rodin, The Walking Man, ca. 1880. Bronze. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by General Art Acquisition Fund.

Auguste Rodin, The Walking Man, ca. 1880. Bronze. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by General Art Acquisition Fund.

In his later work, Michelangelo distorted the human anatomy for expressive ends. Rodin drew inspiration from this way of expression and abandoned his typical polish of the classic tradition of in favor of raw surface that retained the impact of his own hands.

Rodin quickly developed a unique approach through to the representation of the emotional state through the human body. Most often, he distilled the emotional essence of a sculpture from a textual source like Greek mythology, the Bible, or most notably Dante’s Inferno from which his celebrated The Gates of Hell derived and his most renowned sculpture The Thinker originated. These pieces represented the nude body in entirely original and often shocking poses. Rodin’s employment of the human form and the use of standard materials like bronze, marble, plaster and clay convey his deep respect for the classical tradition while his disavowal of polished execution retained the unique marks of his artistic touch. His impact on the art world in pervasive even in the present and his pieces display timeless precision and forward-thinking composition.

For more information, visit sbma.net or call 805/963/4364.

—Lauren Bennett

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