H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition


Nous avons toujours considéré, et écrit au Mac Laren Art Center, que le fonds dont il est question ne pouvait être considéré comme original.  

[From the Musée Rodin press release]


Before we even can start discussing if the MacLaren plasters can be called "original" or "authentic", we must know where they come from.

As I learned before the Symposium, the Musée Rodin has acknowledged already that
"it appears evident that the plasters in question, as itemized in the list (the MacLaren) provided, do indeed come from the Rudier foundry" [letter of 23 Aug. 2000 to Maclaren Art Centre - See Part III].

Although the Canadian press later used the word "fraud", the Musee Rodin itself never used this word nor suggested these plasters would have been derived from surmoulage on existing bronzes or originate from unauthorized plaster replication. 


From Canadian Press 

Jul. 31, 2001. 05:23 PM 

A Canadian exhibit featuring the work of Auguste Rodin is authentic, says the man behind the project, even though a Paris museum devoted to the famous sculptor has suggested the display is a fraud. 

''We have immense documentation supporting (authenticity),'' said William Moore, who spent several years trying to obtain the Rodin pieces as director of the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ont. 

Moore defended the exhibit Tuesday after Jacques Vilain, director of the Rodin Museum in Paris, wrote a letter to a Toronto newspaper condemning the pieces, which are to be displayed next month at the Royal Ontario Museum. 

''We have always maintained the collection in question cannot be considered authentic,'' wrote Vilain. ''The public must not be misled.'' 

Reading the press release by the Musée Rodin word-for-word, its critique, these plasters would not be "original" or "authentic", is only specified as follows: 

1) the criticized pieces are "just" used foundry plasters, instead of studio or representation plasters, and 

2) these plasters were not donated by Rodin:

Ayant eu tous les éléments en main, M. Vilain, Directeur du musée Rodin, a indiqué le 23 août 2000 à M. Moore qu'il s'agissait là "de plâtres de fonderie, qui doivent être pris comme tels", ajoutant que "les plâtres originaux de Rodin ont été donné par l'artiste à l'État français en 1916 et sont, principalement, exposés au musée de Meudon".

[From the Musée Rodin press release]

Now since the Canadian museums never denied that a large part of the donation actually consists of such foundry plasters, what does it mean than in the end, that these foundry plasters "should be considered as such", as the Musée Rodin demands with so much emphasis? Does it mean, they should be presented to the public as such? Or does it mean, they should not be exhibited at all? Or does it only mean, they are unsuitable to draw further bronze casts from? If they actually come from the Rudier foundry, like the Musée Rodin confirmed, what is it then about them, that would forbid us to call them "original" or "authentic"? And why did Jacques Vilain in an interview say, there would be "unscrupulous people" in the background? What are the institutional and economic interests William Moore sees as the true reason the R.O.M. exhibition is attacked, while previous exhibitions of the same plasters never attracted the scorn of the Musée Rodin:

Although the Royal Ontario Museum venue is the first time this collection has been exhibited in full, various works have appeared at Andros, Bologna, Venice, and Paris where half a dozen were on view at a well-known left-bank gallery for many years. Other examples from the cache of plasters once at the Rudier foundry have gone to collectors and an important museum in the United States with the Musée Rodin’s acceptance. If there were problems with specific plasters, would it not be Madame Romain’s duty to bring these items before the authorities as soon as she saw them, and would it not be Mr. Vilain's duty to name the “unscrupulous people,” whom he claimed in a recent interview as associated with these works? 

In my opinion, the issues of grievance are not the plasters, but the bronzes. The MacLaren Art Centre is the recipient by gift of the plasters in our exhibition and of some bronzes. We plan to exhibit the former and retain the latter for display in public areas of our ArtCity project and for teaching purposes. 

[Letter from William Moore to Ruth Butler, second half of October 2001]




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