Summer-long show dedicated to one of the greats of modern sculpture
One of the key exhibitions in this year’s Rendez-vous festival of French culture brings more than 70 Rodin works to Zagreb.
As hinted by the title of the exhibition, ‘Rodin in Meštrović’s Zagreb’, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was indirectly connected with the Croatian capital through his friendship with Ivan Meštrović. The great Croatian sculptor who first met Rodin in 1902 – Rodin was 62 and an established star, Meštrović was just 19.
Meštrović was bowled over by Rodin; Rodin in turn described Meštrović as ‘the greatest phenomenon among the artists of today’, after seeing his works exhibited alongside those of the Viennese Secession group in 1905. Rodin sat for a portrait in Meštrović’ studio in 1914, and the pair exchanged letters right up until Rodin’s death.
A key component of this summer’s Rendez-vous festival of French culture, the exhibition focuses on some of the most emblematic sculptures of Rodin’s career – emblematic indeed for the entire history of modern sculpture. The Thinker will be stroking his chin in familiar fashion somewhere near the centre of the pavilion; the iconic Kiss and the equally sensual Fugit Amor will also be close at hand. Also on show will be The Gates of Hell – a figure-encrusted portal inspired by Dante’s Inferno that contained early versions of The Thinker and The Kiss before they were fully developed into works in their own right. The display will include sketches for public monuments such as The Burghers of Calais, plus a host of drawings and photographs.
The venue could not be better suited to Rodin’s work. A graceful art-nouveau structure built for the Budapest Millennium Exhibition of 1896, and re-erected in Zagreb to serve as a temple to Croatian culture, the Art Pavilion is a monument to the opulence and sensuality of the fin de siècle.
As an appendix to the Zagreb exhibition, Rodin’s Meditation will be on show throughout the summer at the Meštrović Gallery in Split, where it will be set alongside Meštrović’s Psyche in order to show the parallel currents in their work. Indeed, Rodin intended to make a present of Meditation to Meštrović, but the outbreak of World War I prevented its delivery.