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Rodin
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:51 am    Post subject: Rodin Reply with quote

Hi All,
Not certain as to whether this thread has been explored.I'm curious to know the opinions of the members regarding the portraits of Rodin.Looking forward to the posts.......

Joel
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Luke Shepherd



Joined: 01 Mar 2010
Posts: 29
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:33 am    Post subject: Bust of Clementel - Possibly the most intreguiing bust ever? Reply with quote

Albert E Elsen's book called Rodin Redscoverd gives 4 b&W images of the stages of development of Rodins bust of Clementel.

Clementel describes the sitting process below.

I have stood in front of this bust in Paris for hours. Transfixed. Pondering how he found the information and what he meant when he says "In the fourth stage I will work upon the planes I have not yet begun this. [The bust is not yet beyond] the third stage."

Any ideas what he meant by leaving the planes tillt he 4th stage? and does anybody have a photo of Etienne Clementel?


Etienne Clemental on Rodin

He had indicated to me at the beginning of our sessions how he wanted to work. He said to me “I will make 4 successive busts. The first I am going to bring out in relief the slight impressions in the clay." It's true. In four or five sittings he took his measurements, without any sort of preliminary studies, constantly delineating as he progressed. He studied the foreshortening, but in constantly following the lines for his plan. He had fashioned in a few sessions, maybe seven at the most, a first bust which is splendid. It's not a portrait, but all the same it's admirably lifelike: it has life; it has an intense presence of its subject. He said to me: "When I have this . . . I would make a mould of the first bust. I'll make a cast in clay from this mould, and then your suffering will begin.
"I would like to work as a certain number of my colleagues do, whose names I'd prefer not to mention. It also takes a great artist to be . . . very finicky. I shall work like them. I must forewarn you that it will be necessary to assume many attitudes. Notably, I hope that you might allow me to work from above . . . ." He began manipulating the clay, and began working on the bust.
He worked upon the bust during long sessions, during which he would say to me: "Don't worry about the [impression of] life in your bust…it will return." He worked in these sessions by building up the clay . . . . at one point he severed the head of the bust from the neck. He then resuscitated the head in order to work on it from a horizontal rather than a vertical plane. Naturally, there had been some compression of the clay [as a result], and it was not well recovered. Rodin resumed working on the bust, examined it, continued working and made a second mould. [From this mould] he made a clay impression and said: "Now I am going to give you life. This is the third stage."
He said to me "In the fourth stage I will work upon the planes I have not yet begun this. [The bust is not yet beyond] the third stage."
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:25 pm    Post subject: Rodin Reply with quote

Luke,
Thank you for your reply.What is your personal opinion of Rodin's work?
Joel
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Luke Shepherd



Joined: 01 Mar 2010
Posts: 29
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:20 am    Post subject: Personal Opinion of Rodin's Work Reply with quote

When I was an art student I spent a week in Paris. 3 full days at the Musee Rodin and I loved his work. Some more that others, the bronzes not so much the marbles. 20 years later I visited the museum again hoping to relive some of the marvel I found in earlier days. But it wasn't there?
I still don't know why. As my own work becomes tighter, some of the risks he took and deviations from perception didn't intregue me as much.

Rodin's work changed drastically over his lifetime.. so its vague to talk of Rodin as a whole and not about an individual piece, fo which I could be more specific.

Maybe my personal opinion on Rodin work is not so important as it only affects me. What I think is important is the legacy he has left and the problem this presents to current sculptors if we try to emulate anything remotely similar.

By all accounts Rodin was a pig of a man. He was bully and had no respect for women. He created an empire and had over 30 people working for him. In these conditions it may be possible to create such a vast output, but it's not something I want to emulate.

The quote I added in the previous post gives a clue to how he worked. This I think is worth pondering upon. The level of experimentation with different materials. Adding lumps of clay to the surface of a face and then casting in plaster and then pouring a thin skin of liquid plaster over to hide the lumps and form a tightness to the surface. I have played with some of these ideas and used different modelling materials for different parts of the head as they give very different results ie/ clay for face and plaster for hair.

So overall, seen in the context of the era, I think he is an amazing sculptor, but I wouldn't like to have been his friend..
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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting Luke. Although I took many art history courses, I think the instructors must have left out this tidbit pertaining to Rodin's character and method of production. I think it has to be truth that an artists character somehow shows through in their work - which is perhaps why I have never really been a big fan of Rodin's work. It has interesting aspects, but as a whole, there is some untangible thing about most of it that repels me.

I would not say the same for Bernini, whose work I love. I wonder what his character was like? The personal stories, struggles, and how these infamous sculptors of past conducted business is of great interest to me. It would be interesting to have met these men in person just to see if their legacy was true to their character. Stories change drastically over time, so I often wondered how much of what is written in history books was actually the way it was.
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:00 pm    Post subject: Rodin Reply with quote

Heidi and Luke,
Thank you for you opinions.In reading about Rodin I had much sympathy for Rose,their son,and Camille Claudel.He was a man driven only by his work and ambition.I was exposed to his work as a child and similiarly was more impressed then than now.There are sculptors working now who must be working with large numbers of practitioners in order to churn out hundreds of individual pieces.
It seemed to me that he seemed to see an over all design to the body and ran the forms from bottom to top,and,emphasized what he saw.Like you I think I have grown to appreciate the tighter approach and the effort that some sculptors make to continually sharpen their perception and communication of the subtleties of the form.
The one aspect that continues to impact me was his view of movement and time reflected in quotes attributed to him in his arguements regarding photography vs. art.I feel they can apply to the portrait as well as the full figure.
Joel
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Stuart



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 834

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:22 pm    Post subject: Rod Reply with quote

I don't think we have to like our artists. They seem to be a pretty mixed bunch like everywhere else. Eccentricity seems to be a regular ingredient however and, the deeper people delve into themselves for their expression the less they are likely to compromise and this spills out into everyday life and isn't always pleasant and sometimes damaging for those associated closely with the artist.
I've met one or two who also 'play the artist', and seem to use the 'condition' to behave badly, but they are usually pretty messed up anyway.
Rodin was most definitely posessed by his art and the work is generally applauded. I'm the opposite of Joel, in that earlier on I wasn't so moved, but in later years have been intrigued by the fluidity of many of the works and can hardly believe the depths that he managed to leave, particularly in his head modelling, the Burghers of Calais in particular.
I've mulled over the 'putting in the planes' business, mentioned by Luke a few times and can't make much of it. It may have been part of a very personal reverse technique of some sort, or he could have been muttering on for the benefit of a listener or patron.
No idea frankly.
I was told that he occassionally cobbled pieces together from casts of his own work. I've often thought that his 'John the baptist might have been put together in this way and I find it awkward and the anatomy questionable. Some would scream 'blue murder' at this comment.
I do like to look at his work though, and there's plenty of it around.

Recently, an artist, who I know slightly, thought it arty, (and got permission from those oh so modern sorts at the Tate), to wind a ball of string a mile long all over 'The Kiss' by Rodin. I thought the act purile as an expression of art or anything else, and honestly I don't think those in command have the right to mess with an artists work, dead or alive, unless they personally own it. Sensationalism very often rears it's ugly head when ideas and inspiration are in short supply.

Stuart
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:14 pm    Post subject: Rodin Reply with quote

I agree that we shouldn't reject an artist"s work based on their personality,lifestyle or beliefs.If you think back the artists left to history would be very lonely.I didn't intend to say that I don't still have an appreciation for Rodin's work,it just isn't as intense as it once was.And I still like to experiment with his approach to time and movement.
Joel
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a really interesting thread for me - because my art history is quite shaky these days having not studied for years.
I agree that we can appreciate a work of art without having to like the artist's personality.
Two things struck me ; Heidi's comment on feeling repulsed at his work and Stuart's comment of Rodin being posessed by his art.
I think we can pick up on something subliminal which exposes a character trait of the artist which can turn us off their work.
Its like a gut feeling.
Whether we like his work or not, Rodin did have great talent. I wonder what his work would have been if he had learned to harness his passion and work with it, instead of being caught up in a kind of battle, between his very self and his art...
(his work methodolgy sounds like he was just making things difficult for himself!)
was it more about conquering a demon within, ie. lust for power, recognition honours etc... rather than finding creative satisfaction...and this is what some viewing his work pick up on?
We will never know - Sounds like he didn't allow himself to chill out and cheer up poor soul!
Jeanette
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:09 am    Post subject: off topic ,maybe Reply with quote

This point certainly doesn't apply to Rodin,but,something Jeanette referred to brought to mind something I have felt for quite some time.When I was a teenager (49-50 years ago) the abstract movement was quite strong.The college I went to participated directly in an indocrination to the point where, to a great extent, a student would have to put off their pursuit of realism for the four years there.
I grew up in the Asbury Park,NJ area,the land of Springstein and Little Stevie.We had the "circuit" of Ocean and Kingsley ave's where one would drive in circles looking to "meet" young ladies.There were many restaurants,bars,shops and galleries.I visited the galleries which were all abstract and full of characters,creating abstract art who I felt had little talent.What struck me there and at school was that many of these people were more interested in living their perception of the artists life style.I had the same feeling ,truthfully, visiting museums,to some degree.I suppose the same thing can be said about the music world where every garage had a band.
Those of us choosing portrait sculpture have chosen an extremely demanding and intensely technical art form where it seems you can never learn enough.The anatomy,structure etc. leaves us open to critiques that can be verified by the truths involved.If you want to be an "artist" without being subjected to this invent something new that can hardly be technically defined or criticisized.I have much respect for the expert members of this site who share with us and those members who have the guts to put their work up for those experts to critique.So with our jeans,tee shirts,sandals,sneakers,long hair(fortunately for me optional) call us Bohemian,beatnik,hippie.....artist... sculptors
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Joel,
I had a similair experience at the college I attended.
At four this morning when I was nursing one of my kids back to sleep, your post popped into my head. When ever this happens my brain goes into overdrive and I can't sleep!
I began to see a bigger picture of how young people, practicing at being grown up are easy meat for governing bodies of institutions to coerse into certain behaviours, by exposing them to what is less than excellence and selling it as “the in thing.”
If you’re not in, your out – sort of thing.
My college had a Modernist approach, and we were encouraged to be “Modernist” and "Conceptual". While these approaches are not invalid, when overdone it tends to produce a mindset and work initiated by emotions; resulting in a lack of depth, a superficial surface art that reflects the ego, and the senses rather than the intellect or reasoned process.
Its a generalisation, but it concerns me( in relation to my kids) because I see how curriculums have changed from my day compared to the Government initiatives and political agendas introduced into into schools in recent decades, and how that might form their thinking for future decision making.
There seems to be a move to make everyone equal to the point that excellence is not a good thing because it is being "elitist" in some way, ... Rolling Eyes
I digress slightly…)

I wondered if Rodin was working at the time when the Modernist movement and its values arose and was he influenced by them?
I studied Epstein, and I know that he later rejected his acclaimed “ Rockdriller” when he thought more deeply about what the age of the machine had meant in warfare.
Jeanette.
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Stuart



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 834

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:06 am    Post subject: 'art' Reply with quote

In the UK at the time you speak of Joel (or perhaps a little earlier), you would be lucky to get a model as part of a course, and you might even be met with guffaws for wanting to go the traditional route.
There was even a smashing up of plaster 'flayed' figures, (study models) from antiquity because it was felt they wouldn't be needed anymore and not in the spirit of modernism.
Karen Newman, one of the best portrait sculptors in England today, (in my opinion) was at a very prestigeous London college for a time in the 70's, Chelsea...........very fashionable darling and had difficulty getting that college to hire models.
It is one of the reasons that in the UK, and I suspect the US, there are very few people who can genuinely teach traditional sculpture in the schools and colleges today.
Also, interesting to add, but when 'The Brit Pack' emerged in the 80's, they were looking around for academically trained sculptors to sculpt their work for them. Some of them still do!
Business art was being preached, .....especially at Goldsmiths College,......the 'idea' was the thing............didn't matter who you got to make it. I know that artists have always had help, masons to help them chop out the basic form, mould-makers and so on, but the period has all been a little cynical for my taste.
Re: UK schools. I live the ex-pat life these days and I’m so glad my kids don’t have to suffer the maniacal school direction from above that I read about with horror. Teaching ought to be a profession where they are free to be creative, within a certain framework naturally, but this is where good ideas come from .........definitely not from government offices choked with managers trying to outdo each other.
I think Heidi allows us to digress in this section Jeanette!
The best
Stuart
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Stuart,
I was rabbiting a bit - maybe I need to get out more ! (mind you how long does tonsilitis in a 6 yr old take to clear up?Very Happy)
jeanette
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:37 am    Post subject: digression Reply with quote

Stewart,Jeanette,
I'll take the opportunity that Heidi is allowing and agree with you about government and education.I'll tell this and stop.Texas is the largest purchaser in the US of text books.What they select dictates what goes into textbooks in I believe 46 other states.There is a move in their education department to eliminate our early history and begin the books in the 1870's.Mind numbing as are the examples you quoted.If anyone wishes to discuss this more feel free to contact me off site as I want to respect the integrity of purpose here.
Joel
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:45 am    Post subject: Brit Pack Reply with quote

Stuart,
Please eplain the "Brit Pack"...sounds like interesting history....

Joel
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