Rodin at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem

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Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

The Peabody Essex Museum has a special exhibition of Rodin sculptures until September. Rodin was a hard-nosed modernist who wouldn’t back down. He kept making sensuous art out of fragments and in repetitions because, well, because nature and life appear in fragments and repetitions with variations.

Completion and perfection were not the highest values to Rodin. He went back over themes, re-did them, worked from unfinished bits, left pieces unfinished, found new ways of putting parts together.

He worked in partial views, made provisional attempts and let those attempts stand as finished. There is movement and process everywhere in Rodin, freedom and confidence, meaning  faith in his own artistic vision.

Rodin brought the human body, the human face, human expressions and emotions into his workman’s art of sculpture, which was the sensuous genius of his own creating hands. Visitors cannot touch the works of art but they may touch the medium in which the art was accomplished, soft plaster for the most sensitive detail, smooth marble for the purest themes, polished presentable bronze for what lasts.

There are always the hands, the expressive, life-giving hands.

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