Rodin And Dance: The Essence Of Movement

Art, Sculpture
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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Every sensible modern human knows you have to make sure you’ve got someone who you can trust to delete your browsing history if you die. It’s just common sense. Master of nineteenth-century French sculpture Auguste Rodin didn’t think that far ahead, sadly. The result is that academics can root through his old stuff and find all sorts of kinky shit. This show, for example, pulls together a bunch of rude drawings and sculptures that Rodin never showed publicly and largely didn’t even finish. 

They’re based on dance and largely use one single model in just two acrobatic poses as their inspiration. After a bunch of startlingly revealing preparatory sketches, Rodin made two simple figures out of clay and had moulds made of them. The moulds were chopped up, creating a series of interchangeable torsos and limbs for him to twist, mismatch and reassemble into new impossible shapes. 

Pulled together in a tall glass cabinet, the resulting little sculptures look like a pristine collection of lost ancient figurines – something unearthed from more primitive times – but they’re aggressively modern. They were all made in one short bust, and you can tell. The twisting clashing shapes are whirling masses caught forever mid-spin. Legs extend too far, spines bend too much, some figures even have too many limbs. They’re adventurous and brave, almost abstract. 

The drawings follow the same tack. Quick, intimate portraits; legs spread, limbs stretched, studious and erotic at the same time.

These all feel like the work of an artist on a desperate, futile mission. Rodin isn’t trying to capture a single moment of movement, he’s trying to capture movement itself. 

He fails, of course. They are single moments, unavoidably, which may explain why he abandoned these sculptures and left them largely unfinished. But that doesn’t matter. In their rushed desperation for the unattainable, they’re little monuments to passion, dedication and failure. He might not have liked the idea of people rummaging through his privates, but you should be glad they did. And remember, clear the cache and delete the cookies too.



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