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Rodin: Realism, Fragments, and Abstraction

The Gates of Hell (1880-1917) and Burghers of Calais (1884-1889) are two of the most important works by Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917). During his long and productive life, the innovative and influential sculptor shocked contemporary artists and the general public with his personal style of realism and figural abstraction epitomized by these sculptures. A small-scale maquette, or model, of the Gates of Helland a full-size bronze cast of the Three Shades (38 inches high) from that project will be shown, as well as a monumental bronze figure from the Burghers of Calais and a full-scale bronze head of another burgher.

These works represent some of Rodin’s best-known art, and they are notable for their strong, emotional content and their scintillating, impressionistic surfaces. They also illustrate his unconventional preference for realism rather than idealism in public monuments, his unprecedented reuse of sculptural elements in new compositions, and his radical practice of fragmenting figures for artistic effect.