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Published: 05 June 2021

By Andy Ross

A plaster dressing gown

Rodin is familiar to most as the sculptor who created "The Kiss", "The Thinker" and "The Burghers of Calais" but this exhibition focuses on the way he worked to create new forms from the familar. 

The show is intriguing, offering a different view of the pieces that have come to be so well-known. The sculptor often created by reusing parts of different works, adding a head to a torso or an arm in a different position to emphasise a particular point cretaed through that posture. In 1891 Rodin was selected by the Société des Gens de Lettres to commemorate the poet Balzac. The artist undertook extensive research to find indicative regional characteristics upon which to base the piece, and four years of consideration before deciding on the structure of the work. 

Then followed a period of experimentation with drapery. Rodin soaked his own dressing gown in plaster and placed it over the statue, filling it out to create a powerful form. The gown became a potent symbol for the statue, sweeping the gaze upwards to the poet's head with empty sleeves reinforcing the movement skyward. This piece is shown in the exhibition, a strange and powerful emodiment of the creative force that Rodin wanted to impart in the work.

(Image courtesy of http://newyorkarts.net)