I would like to present the review on the exhibition of artworks at the Musée Rodin in Paris

France. I attended it on 01 November 2016. The exhibition of the museum explores the collection of the
works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin known for his expressive figurative sculptures. He is
considered by many art historians to be one of the originators of modern sculpture. The museum has
two sites: at the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds in central Paris, and just outside Paris at Rodin's
old home, the Villa des Brillants at Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine). The collection includes 6,600 sculptures,
8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs and 7,000 objects of art. Although I could visit only one of the
sites - the Hôtel Biron, I am glad that I had a chance to explore Rodin’s unique vision of the world as well
as of the human body and soul.
My visit to the Musée Rodin was an exciting experience in that the focus was not solely on art,
but on the garden and the artist’s living space, from which I could recreate and understand the historical
context of Paris.
While living in the Villa des Brillants, Rodin used the Hôtel Biron and its grounds as his
workshop, and subsequently they became a treasure trove of Rodin’s works. Placing each sculpture
around the garden beginning in 1908, Rodin intended each piece to interact with the natural landscape.
Along the left side of the building, the rose bushes lead to the, "La Porte de l'Enfer" ("The Gates of
Hell"), which spawned some of Rodin's most famous works embodying scenes from Dante’s Inferno.
Instead of merely illustrating Dante's narration, Rodin took it as a starting point for his own imagination:
"There is no intention of classification, or method of subject, no scheme of illustration or
intended moral purpose. I followed my imagination, my own sense of arrangement, movement and
composition. It has been from the beginning, and will be to the end, simply and solely a matter of
personal pleasure." [Rodin in conversation with Truman Bartlett, 1887/8].
Rodin spent a great deal of time working on alternative techniques, which involved assembling
existing fragments. This dedication resulted in creative pieces such as “The Gates”, made up of several
hundred figures. "... a great number of figures pulsing with life which he modestly refers to as studies,
but which were actually in the process of revolutionising contemporary sculpture ..." [Arsène Alexandre,
in Paris, 21 June 1889, reprint of the complete article in Claude Monet - Auguste Rodin, centenaire de
l'exposition de 1889, Musée Rodin, 1989, p. 220]. Rodin died before completing this artwork.
Just beyond “The Gates”, there is the Galerie des Marbes (the Marble Gallery), a glass-walled
structure sheltering marble sculptures.
Nearby, there is the marble "Monument to Victor Hugo". The initial draft shows the nude poet,
sitting on a rock symbolizing the Island of Guernsey, where Hugo had spent part of his exile years. The
figure of the poet was surrounded by three Muses, representing Youth, Maturity and Old Age;
alternatively, the Muses were each associated with a Hugo work: “Les Orientale”, “'Les Châtiments” and
“Meditation”. The knees and a part of the right leg of “Meditation” were cut off, so that the figure could
be more closely joined with the rest of the composition; the arms were also chopped off. The Muses
seemed to whisper in the writer's ears, as the representation of feminine literary inspiration -
contrasting to the masculine mind of the author. However finally, a marble sculpture of the Poet, resting
on the rocks of the island of Guernsey, without any Muses, was carved to be exhibited as the
centrepiece of the Salon of 1901. This marble version was placed in the gardens of the Palais-Royal in
1909, then moved to Hôtel Biron in 1933.

Along the right side of the building, neatly manicured rose bushes and hedge-lined pathways
bring you to Rodin's famous work, "Le Penseur" ("The Thinker"). “The Thinker” was originally intended
to sit at the top of “The Gates of Hell” and represent Dante, as he composed the poem. Therefore, the
statue was originally known as “The Poet”, but as this piece began to gain precedence over “The Gates
of Hell”, it became known as “The Thinker” nowadays commonly recognized as a symbol of philosophy
and learning. The position of the contemplative figure is one of a deep thought and concentration. The
arched back and curled hand resting under the chin are signs of the study also allowing the figure's
muscular back and broad shoulders to be fully defined. The powerful physique of the sitter reflects the
high esteem, in which Rodin held Dante. This sculpture became one of the artist's most famous works.
Later in his life, Rodin said about it, "Nothing, which I made, satisfied me as much, because nothing had
cost me as much, nothing else sums up so profoundly that which I believe to be the secret law of my
The most of the garden is behind the Hotel. Steps leading down from the terrace at the back of
the building open on to a long expanse of green lawn. Paths along the sides lead to a large ornamental
pool. On the left side of the lawn, in the shade of linden trees there are some bronze sculptures,
including "Adam", "Eve", "Meditation", "The Spirit of Eternal Rest", "Orpheus", "The Whistler Muse",
"The Three Shades", "The Two Caryatids" and "The Monument to the Burghers of Calais".

In the garden, there are also sculptures purchased by Rodin placed in naturalised settings: a
headless Hercules from the Roman era, some torsos of men and women, either from the Roman times
or modern copies of Greek originals. "Nature and antiquity are the two great sources of life for an
artist." – Rodin. A lovely area with a few wooden lounge chairs to have some quiet time is situated
behind the pool and the thickly ivy-covered trellis. Going back towards the Hotel, on the side of the
garden, there is a cosy cafeteria. Aside from the formal elegance of the main lawn and ornamental pool,
the garden of the Musée Rodin has a semi-wild, overgrown and natural feel to it.
Another statue found in the garden worth to describe separately is the “Monument to Balzac”.
In the latter years of Rodin's life his works became more expressionist and some pieces, such as the
Monument to Balzac, show the artist moving away from the realism. The sculpture demonstrates that
Rodin endlessly studied his models and understood the human anatomy intimately. Such knowledge of
the human form resulted retaining a great sense of reality in even the most distorted pieces.
Lots of busts of friends and famous figures, including the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, and
the English socialite-turned-writer Vita Sackville-West, are found in the museum.
The marble statue “The Kiss” is a centrepiece of the indoor exhibition. “The Kiss” depicts a
moment from Dante's Divine Comedy, in which two lovers, Paolo and Francesca, kiss for the first time.
The piece designed to be viewed from every angle is incredibly believable and real. The contrast
between the smooth skin of the lovers and the rough marble of the rock they are sitting on adds further
sensual elements to it. The passion and romance of “The Kiss” are so evident. The faces of the lovers are
barely visible – they are so involved in one another. The embrace with which they hold each other
makes the perception of their love even greater, more romantic and sensual. Although both figures are
nude, Rodin managed to render the figures not overtly sexual.

Here is also exhibited the “Man with a Broken nose” first demonstrated in 1863 at the Paris
Salon. By emphasizing certain features –the deep lines, the broken nose, the style of the beard – Rodin
established a parallel between this face and Michelangelo’s, and thus the individual portrait dissolved
into an archetype. The way, in which the bust is cut accentuating certain distinctive features, its
“philosophical” nudity and the classical-style fillet in the hair enhance the impression that the work is no
longer entirely an individual portrait, but one that joins general characteristics attributed to the
philosopher and the artist.
The museum has also a room dedicated to works of Camille Claudel. Remembered as the
mistress of Auguste Rodin, she was a talented artist in her own right. Their relationship was extremely
influential on both artists and the similarity of their work during this time demonstrates this. The Musée
Rodin in Paris continues to display many of Claudel's works which demonstrates her importance in
Rodin's progression as a sculptor.

Some paintings by Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh, which were in Rodin's personal collections, are
also presented. The Musée Rodin collections are very diverse, as Rodin used to collect besides being an
artist. Lots of drawings in different styles and associated with different periods: the observations of
landscapes, fantasy works inspired by Dante or Baudelaire, numerous erotic nudes or portraits - are
exhibited at the museum. There is also an abundant collection of photographs. Some of them were
collected by Rodin himself. The artist was greatly interested in this art. He collaborated with such great
photographers as Eugène Druet, Jacques-Ernest Bulloz, Adolphe Braun or Edward Steichen. Rodin's
personal albums illustrate his centres of interest and artistic sources, while the portraits and newspaper
photographs reflect his work and his life.

I marvelled at the artwork, but also at the unique interior and the lovely garden. I witnessed
Rodin’s unique artistic and aesthetic vision, as well as his tumultuous life unravelled before my eyes. I
am happy that I could see the very original thought that changed the history of art incarnate in bronze
and stone!

Based on my own experience, the information available at the museum and the following sources:
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rodin-Museum, http://www.rodin-web.org/works/1889_hugo.htm,

Photography done by: Karolis Salkauskas