Auguste Rodin

August RodinFrancois Auguste Rene Rodin was a notable French artist who became more famous for his wonderful sculptures.  He was considered as one of the few sculptors who were able to gain wide recognition outside the visual arts world. Rodin was also considered as pioneer of modern sculpture. His works clashed with the rules set out by figure sculpture tradition.

Rodin was born on November 12, 1840 in Paris, France. He was the second child to Jean Baptiste and Marie Cheffer Rodin, a working class family. Rodin’s father worked as a clerk for the French police department.

Rodin was largely self-educated during his younger years and taught himself to draw at age ten. He was schooled in Petite Ecole when he was between 14 and 17, where he dabbled in drawing and painting.

Later on, Rodin wanted to enter into the Grand Ecole in 1857 by submitting a clay model of a friend in the hopes of gaining entrance to the school. Unfortunately, he was denied entry along with two other applications in other schools.

Rodin’s failure to gain entrance to such schools were said to be due to the school’s Neoclassical tastes while Rodin was schooled in light 18th Century sculptures. With these setbacks, Rodin began to earn a living by being a craftsman making decorative objects and architectural ornaments.

Rodin also joined a Catholic order for a short period of time after the death of his sister Maria. Deciding to turn away from art, Rodin was encouraged by a fellow priest in the order who recognized his talent to continue on. Rodin left the order and worked as a decorator while taking classes for animal sculpture with Antoine-Louis Barye.

In 1864, Rodin offered his first sculpture for exhibit and was able to enter the studio of Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse who was then a mass producer of objects d’art. Rodin became a chief assistant to Carrier-Belleuse until 1870. During the Franco-Prussian War, Rodin experienced some struggles since work became scarce. Rodin went to Belgium and there he stayed for 6 years as a craftsman.

After acquiring enough money, Rodin went on a trip to Italy where he was enticed by the works of Michelangelo and Donatello. The experience had a lasting effect on the later works of Rodin. The 1880’s saw Rodin again joining up with Carrier-Belleuse who already became the art director of a porcelain factory. He gave Rodin a part time job as a designer.

His vase and table ornament designs in the factory made the factory earn some recognition across Europe. As Rodin became known for his work at the porcelain factory, he was also able to capture the eye of some of the important people in Paris which led him to be awarded a number of art commissions.

Through these meetings, Rodin was given the commission to create a portal for a museum. There Rodin gave his energies to create his elaborate Gates of Hell. It took about four decades of Rodin’s time and yet the portal remained unfinished, primarily due to the fact that the museum it was made for was never built.

But this led to Rodin being able to create some of his most famous sculptures. The many figures that comprise the elaborate Gates of Hell became independent sculptures in their own right. Most notable of Rodin’s work was The Thinker and The Kiss.

 
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