Rodin: The Shape of Genius

Overview

Auguste Rodin-the most famous artist in the world at the turn of the twentieth century-led a life as sensational and intense as the great sculptures he created. In this major reinterpretation of Rodin's life and times, the accomplished Rodin scholar Ruth Butler draws for the first time on closely guarded archives and letters to disentangle the facts of this legendary artist's life from the many myths that have grown up around him. Lavishly illustrated, the book also provides new interpretations of the ...
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Overview

Auguste Rodin-the most famous artist in the world at the turn of the twentieth century-led a life as sensational and intense as the great sculptures he created. In this major reinterpretation of Rodin's life and times, the accomplished Rodin scholar Ruth Butler draws for the first time on closely guarded archives and letters to disentangle the facts of this legendary artist's life from the many myths that have grown up around him. Lavishly illustrated, the book also provides new interpretations of the motivations, execution, and reception of Rodin's extraordinary artistic creations.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An insightful life of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) that's based on many previously unpublished letters and a fresh interpretation of familiar facts. Butler (Art/UMass at Boston) is especially perceptive about Rodin's relationships—how they inspired, energized, and influenced his art—particularly his relations with the women to whom he claimed he "owed everything": his sister, who died when he was 21; his companion of 51 years, Rose Beuret, whom his biographer, Judith Cladel, arranged for him to marry when they were both near death; Camille Claudel, the student whom he reputedly drove mad; wealthy married women who commissioned portraits; and dozens of models who inspired and posed for his thousands of frenetic erotic drawings. Returning to France from Brussels, where he'd began his career, Rodin stopped in Florence, where he encountered the grandeur of Michelangelo and was liberated from the Grecian academic style that prevailed in Paris. This new, more natural, and somewhat vulgar style, as well as the artist's own demanding nature, accounted for his alienation from the centers of power in the artistic community, especially from the Salon system. Nonetheless, in an age of "statuemania," of nationalism and public art, Rodin created major icons: The Kiss, The Thinker, The Burghers of Calais, and The Gate of Hell, the sublime portals based on Dante and cast for a museum that was never built. Butler's special strengths are in analyzing the politics of the artistic community and the art of politics; the expensive and collaborative nature of sculpture (the space, technology, and immense amount of assistance that Rodin required); Rodin's entrepreneurial dimension; his neglectof his illegitimate son; his fame abroad (Rilke wrote his first biography) but his equivocal position in France; and his loneliness. Like Rodin's art: simplified but rounded; monumental. (Two hundred photographs)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300064988
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1996
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 7.01 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Map of Paris
Pt. 1 1860-79
1 A Parisian Family in 1860 3
2 Maria's Vow 21
3 Brother Auguste 31
4 Independent Man 39
5 A Sculptor's Assistant 55
6 Brussels and a Partnership 69
7 Outside the Partnership 81
8 Michelangelo 91
9 The Vanquished One 99
10 The Paris Salon 106
11 The Republic Needs Monuments 124
Pt. 2 1880-89
12 Why Was Rodin Commissioned to Make the Doors? 141
13 Silence and Creativity, 1880-81 150
14 Genius in a Man's Face 163
15 The Women in Rodin's Life 179
16 The Burghers of Calais, 1884-89 199
17 How the Doors for the Musee des Arts Decoratifs Became The Gates of Hell 214
18 In the Company of a "Woman of Genius" 226
Pt. 3 1889-98
19 Monuments to Genius: Bastien-Lepage, Claude Lorrain, and Victor Hugo 237
20 More Monuments to Genius: Balzac, the Inauguration of Claude Lorrain, and Baudelaire's Tomb 252
21 Ateliers and Assistants 261
22 The Passion of Camille Claudel 268
23 The Societe des Gens de Lettres 285
24 Learning to Say: "It Is Finished" 295
25 Victory and Defeat: The Hugo and Balzac Monuments 306
Pt. 4 1899-1917
26 Becoming an Entrepreneur 333
27 Outsider's Victory 349
28 The Home of the Sculptor 362
29 The Favors of Edward's Court 379
30 Teaching Americans about Sculpture 398
31 Rodin's Reputation in France 418
32 Sexual Imperatives 436
33 A New "Wife" and a Home in the City 455
34 Reckonings 477
35 The Gift 492
Afterword 514
Notes 517
Bibliography 559
Index 567
Illustration Credits 592
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