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Romancing Rodin

Updated on April 25, 2011

At the Cantor Art Museim

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Unversity of Stanford MuseimThe Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford UniversityThe Gates of HellAuthor at Cantor Art GardenRodin Sculpture at Cantor Art GardenMuseum LobbyMuseum Halls
Unversity of Stanford Museim
Unversity of Stanford Museim
The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University
The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University
The Gates of Hell
The Gates of Hell
Author at Cantor Art Garden
Author at Cantor Art Garden
Rodin Sculpture at Cantor Art Garden
Rodin Sculpture at Cantor Art Garden
Museum Lobby
Museum Lobby
Museum Halls
Museum Halls

Rodin Sculptures at Cantor Art Center

The Three Shade
The Three Shade
The Kiss
The Kiss

It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) to the history of art. There is no other sculptor since Michelangelo, who changed the face of figurative sculpture and ushered in a whole new era of artistic expression.

Some years back, I sat at the New York Metropolitan Art Museum's cafe, and found myself staring at a huge dark marble like bust of a woman's body. I was intrigued and tried to imagine what went into such large scale divine work. I felt dumb not being familiar with the artist when his name was mentioned. But i knew he was someone i would come to know more. It was up to me..

Rodin's genuis is hard to ignore. I'm not sure about his physique during his prime, but being an artist, and from what we read about him, he was a passionate man. It is rare when an artist and his art, vie for my heart, like two lovers. Perhaps, there is really no separating what is one. I love that Rodin exposed himself boldly and unashamedly, through his handiwork in the myriad. I have wondered what it was like to know him intimately, like his wife Rose Beuret and mistress Camille Claudel. From what is known, both loved Rodin with commitment, and intensity.

Someone had said, with Rodin, passion is so exalted that it purifies the audacity of his lovers.

"His genius was to express the inner truths of the human psyche and his gaze penetrated beneath the external appearance of the world. Rodin was obsessed with myths, both ancient and modern, and his works commonly evoke classical mythology, the Bible, and the Divine Comedy of Dante, as well as the macabre modern Paris described in the poems of Charles Baudelaire.

My dream, and chance to get closer to Rodin came. It was last year, while visiting with friends in California that i had the opportunity to pursue my romance with Rodin. Thanks to our hostess, daughter to one of Stanford U's Cantor Arts Center museum's donors. I had the pleasure of seeing one of the largest Rodin collection in the world, outside Paris. I felt divine favor smiling at me. And it was there that Rodin took my breath away. This was one time i didn't mind that i felt that i had been seduced by a ghost. And i don't mean that in a sexual sense. For, there, we walked together, though large halls and out into the garden, creator sharing dephts of mysteries profoundly expressed in his creations, feelings of turmoil, despair, languishings, and extreme love and joy, such as in The Gates of Hell, Adam, Eve, The Three Shades, The Thinker, and The Burghers of Calais. Rodin didn't fail me. He had revealed himself, without use of a single word.

Bernard Champigneulle wrote, “Songs and sighs of love, cries of pleasure and pain, cries of pain and pleasure mingled, the eternal call of woman, the call of man, the restless summons of the human body - all found expression in his work.

Rodin's L’Emprise depicts a female faun and a man entwined in an almost violent embrace, the energy of the figures is so vibrant that they almost lose themselves in one another. Rodin was a passionate lover, who was involved with many women over the course of his life. Rodin met and fell in love with Michelle Claudel at first sight. Ruth Bulter notes, “that he was swept away by this new Maria, whose vocation was not the religious life but sculpture. never loved before and would never love again”. In Rodin's love letter, he said, ‘Have pity, mean girl, I can’t go on. I can’t go another day with seeing you. Atrocious madness, it’s the end, I won’t be able to work anymore. Malevolent goddess, and yet I love you furiously". .

On his most famous work, Rodin had said, “What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes.”

Technically, Rodin introduced some very important innovations to the history of sculpture. His courage to throw away years of work in order to achieve a higher level of expression, marked Rodin as a unique and powerful artist.

The largest collection of Rodins work can be viewed at:

About The Cantor Art Center

The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, formerly the Stanford University Museum of Art, and commonly known as the Cantor Arts Center, is an art museum on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California. It displays art in 24 galleries plus sculpture gardens, terraces, and a courtyard. It boasts of a proud and venerable history, as it was conceived of in tandem with the founding of Stanford University itself. The Stanford family, including Leland Jr., traveled the world collecting objects of art and cultural interest.

The Rodin exhibition presents the Center's entire Rodin collection, 200 works in all. The Cantor Arts Center's collection of Rodin bronzes is among the largest in the world. The majority of the collection remains on the ground floor, occupying three galleries. Approximately 170 works by Rodin are on view inside the Center, mostly cast bronze, but also works in wax, plaster, and terra cotta. Twenty bronzes, including The Gates of Hell on which Rodin worked for two decades, are outside in the Sculpture Garden. The Burghers of Calais are nearby on campus.

Other casts around the world are found at the garden of Musée Rodin, the Victoria Tower Gardens, in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament in London; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, the sculpture garden of the Smithsonian Hirshorn Museum in Washington D.C., the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, the Rodin Gallery in Seoul, and Glyptoteket in Copenhagen.

Rodin Photos

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Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin
Dedicated to Erna abd Albert Kurtzon
Dedicated to Erna abd Albert Kurtzon


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    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for your comment chef de jour. I have yet to know the artists you mentioned who followed him, except for Modigliani, whose work i also admire. Best to you!

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      6 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for these insights into a pioneer of shape and form, the one and only Rodin. He called sculpture the art of hole and lump - I think he was being a little tongue in cheek. A great artist and one who swept people away with his no nonsense comments and energy!

      As always pioneers break the mould and allow others to become great - those that followed owe him much - Brancusi, Modigliani, Giacometti, Moore....

    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Rich: How fortunate that you have been to The Louvre and Musee Rodin in Paris! I look forward to the experience myself. Thanks for coming by and sharing.

      Mike: Home is where the heart is, and im glad to strike it close enough.

      Hello2! I am always delighted to get a visit and such sweet comments from you. Thanks again for the thumbs up! God bless you guys!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      You have written a fantastic hub and great tribute to well deserved scupturer.

    • mikedsun profile image


      7 years ago from Houston

      Sylvia continues to come up with awesome, interesting and beautiful reports. It is amazing how close to home she strikes! Houston, Texas

    • richtwf profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting hub and reminds me of the time when I vacationed in Paris one summer and visited most of its museums. I visited the large ones like Le Louvre but also visited Musee Rodin too. The one piece which always sticks in my is Le Penseur. Paris is a beautiful city and Rodin is an amazing sculptor.

      Thanks for sharing these thoughts and God bless.

    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Janis: I appreciate your sensitive comment, and am glad to know you too like Rodin. I will read your "Husqvarna in Hope.".

      Winsome: You are funny! I was thinking about the beard too. I wonder if he would love us enough to shave!

    • Winsome profile image


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Very passionately done IVy,I also admire his work and have the Thinker on one of my greeting cards. His lovers must have loved him for his soul and art because I imagine it would be tough kissing him through that mop of a beard. =:)

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 

      7 years ago

      I love your hub. I like the way you integrated your reaction with research and information, as well as quotes from Rodin's writing, so we hear his voice in words and see it in the pictures of his sculptures. Rodin has been a favourite of mine for a long time, too.

      I really like your style of photo-journalism/commentary.

      This is something like I was trying in my hub "Husqvarna in Hope."

      I am following you now. I hope you will write some more hubs about artists you like.

    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for the ok on my hub and photos Jennifer. I understand and respect your sentiment. The mixture of feelings for Rodin and his work is not new.

    • Jennifer Theories profile image

      Jennifer Theories 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I am not a fan of this artist however the article is well written and the photo compliments are great.

    • IslandVoice profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank ypu G-Ma, HUGS!

      UW, so much expression in his hands is right!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I remember being so drawn to one of his sculptures of hands at the Art Gallery of Ontario. So much expression in a hand...

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Very nicely done...I just cannot imagine doing this kind of beautiful work. I suppose we all want to express our feelings and he sure did it in his work...Thank you for introducing me...The photos were great and I would guess the real thing is simply stunning...:O) Hugs G-Ma


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