H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition



I can understand, however, the irritation at the side of the Musée Rodin, as it felt a distinction it deems to be crucial was not sufficiently explained in some press articles, referring to all plasters as "original" without further explanation:

A collection of 100 sculptures by 19th century French artist Auguste Rodin will soon have a home in Barrie, a small city north of Toronto, Ontario. 21 bronzes and 21 original plasters have been donated to the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie. When the donation process is complete the collection will include another 29 bronzes and 29 plasters. In sum, the donation will be worth Cdn $ 40 Million. A list of works and donors involved in this acquisition will be released shortly. 

From: www.artsbusiness.com/bits5042001.html; my italics - HdR.

Provoking as well may have been expressions as quoted by the Musée Rodin, advertising the donated collection as "the world's largest single collection of plasters outside the Musée Rodin in Paris", or even "the second largest collection of Rodins in the world" (William Moore in an interview on CBC, see below). Such expression suggest it could compete or be comparable with the hundred times larger plaster collection in Meudon, comprising numerous bon creux moulds, first-generation plasters and unique assemblages, all donated by Rodin himself to the French State. 

The Musée Rodin obviously wants its truely incomparable collection to be clearly distinguished from the new MacLaren collection mainly consisting of foundry duplicates originating from the Georges Rudier estate - an understandable wish the Canadians apparently underestimated.

According to the MacLaren Art Centre, the Musée Rodin staff did not see the R.O.M. exhibition – with its freshly preserved plasters and didactic panel texts – at all, so that the French would have had difficulties to judge the quality of this show in detail*:

Although I have great respect for the scholarship of Madame Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, the physical evidence does not support, rather it refutes, her assessment of the plasters. Madame Romain viewed seventeen plasters from the Gruppo Mondiale collection at Santa Stae in Venice in 1999, an exhibition organized under the auspices of the Venice Biennale, not under those of the Royal Ontario Museum or the MacLaren Art Centre. As she noted, the surfaces of roughly half the works were encrusted with dirt and lacquer, substances our conservators have, whenever possible, removed as they prepared these and the other thirteen plasters for installation. Conservation is ongoing, but in the cases where it has been completed, the treatment preserves the surfaces as they are, and does not conceal blemishes or cracks integral to the physical history of a particular object. We regret that Madame Romain has refused our invitations to view the plasters in their present states.

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

  * Footnote: Did Antoinette Romain See The Plasters In Canada Or Not?




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