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Bio: Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

August Rodin was born on November twelfth, 1840 in Paris. Now regarded as one of the greatest and most influential and prolific sculptors of his time, Rodin turned away from Neo-Classicism and revolutionized three-dimensional art by emphasizing fragmentation, rejecting idealism, and reflecting his subjects as they truly appeared.

Rodin showed great interest in art at an early age and attended La Petite Ecole, a school for drawing and mathematics at the age of fourteen. From 1854 to 1857, he studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, but in 1862 was so devastated by his sister's death that he joined the Order of the Holy Sacrament. During his one year studying religion, Rodin sculpted a bust of Father Piere-Julien Eynard, and realized through this experience that his true calling was sculpture. In 1963, he returned to Paris.

While traveling to Belgium and Italy, Rodin came into contact with the work of Michelangelo, whose depictions of the musculature of the human body affected him greatly. Rodin had been trained in the strict academic style of the masters, yet he saw in Michelangelo something different, a freedom from the constraints of tradition. After returning to Paris, Rodin began to reflect his subjects as they truly appeared. In 1877 he exhibited L'Age d'Airin in Brussels and Paris. This sculpture, which was extremely realistic and unconventional, was initially rejected by the public; Rodin was accused of casting directly from his models. Eventually, however, Rodin won the support of France and L'Age d'Airin was purchased by the government.

During the same year as L'Age d'Airin, Rodin became interested in Gothic cathedrals. The artist viewed the torso as an autonomous object, and most of his work retains a strong erotic motivation. In 1880, Rodin was commissioned by the government to create La Porte de L'Enfer as the entrance to the Museum of Decorative Arts on the bank of the Seine. This piece, inspired by Dante's Inferno, included 186 figures,

some of which include The Thinker, Ugolino, and Adam and Eve. Although the commission was cancelled due to the museum's relocation to the Louvre, Rodin continued work on it, leaving its pieces uncast at his death in 1917. After the artist passed away, the casts were made and the gateway exhibited.

Rodin revolutionalized sculpture and turned to a more Baroque expression, using an uneven surface treatment and a lack of plinth. The Burghers of Calais, executed from 1884 to 1886, is one of the most renowned examples of the artist's unique style. Many of Rodin's sculptures were deemed controversial by the public, a notable example being The Nude Balzac, commissioned in 1891. Yet in 1900, the artist had become so well known that he was given his own pavilion at the Paris World Exposition, where he displayed 170 pieces. In 1908, August Rodin moved into the Biron Hotel, where he died on November 17, 1917. After his death, his room at the hotel was converted into the first Rodin Museum, which still exists today.

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