H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition


Do The Damaged MacLaren Plasters Really Harm Rodinīs Name?

Now if this letter (see preceding page) contains Albert Elsenīs formulation of what Rodin might have thought himself about a Thinker cast with both legs brutally torn off (not in Rodinīs studio but by a terrorist attack more than 50 years later) and if the respectable Cleveland Museum has actually decided to display this work as a historical document of the radical 1970īs, then what is so scandalous about the R.O.M. presentation of some foundry plasters whose surfaces are historical witness of casting processes? 

If Elsen writes, Rodin "did accept studio accidents that resulted in the battering, breaking and discoloring of works over a long period of time" and even presented such a plaster to the Metropolitan Museum, then how could that battered, orange-colored Thinker plaster in Toronto really harm the reputation of the sculptor?

Did the press ever make a scandal of the plaster torso in the Metropolitan Museum Elsen refers to? By the Museum catalog, it is praised as "a vividly modeled fragment, partly Michelangelesque and partly antique in its inspiration, but purely Rodinīs in its execution". Did we ever hear of the Musée Rodin protesting against the decision of the Cleveland Museum or claim this damaged piece would harm Rodinīs name?


Rodin, Torso. Metropolitan Museum, New York

Catalogue text: Rodinīs involvement with the sculptural fragment stemmed from several sources. One was certainly the habitual use of casts from antique fragments as models for drawing classes. Another was accidental. In the poverty-stricken years of Rodin's early career he was unable to preserve many of his clay works, and they froze or dried out and often were damaged or destroyed. 

Still another source lay in the sculptor's work habits. In the 1880s, he began to extract many of the small, individual figures from the reliefs of The Gates of Hell and to enlarge them to create freestanding sculptures, and the procedure led to the regular removal and recombination of whole bodies and parts of bodies. Problems of distortion induced Rodin deliberately to break apart finished sculptures in order to correct or remodel a part. The intentional ripping away of the head and limbs of this terracotta torso, evident in the traces of violence preserved in the baked clay, has left a vividly modeled fragment, partly Michelangelesque and partly antique in its inspiration, but purely Rodin's in its execution. 

L. 11 5/8 inches. Gift of the artist 1912. 12. 13. 1

[From: Vincent, p. 39]




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