The Pauly Friedman Art Gallery at Misericordia University will join major art galleries around the world in celebrating the centenary of the death of French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) with the exhibit, "Rodin: Portraits of a Lifetime-Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections." Twenty works of art will be on display Sept. 9 through Dec. 9. The exhibit includes 17 bronze portraits created by Rodin and three portraits of him created by his contemporaries.
The exhibition has been organized and made possible by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. The exhibition is partially funded by the Sandra Dyczewski Maffei Endowment. The exhibit's opening reception is Saturday, Sept. 9 from 5-7 p.m., followed by the lecture, "Experiencing Rodin," at 7 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall by Judith Sobol, the curator and former executive director of the Cantor Foundation. The reception and presentation are free, and open to the public.
At the peak of his career, Rodin was considered to be the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo. In recognition of his extraordinary talent, programs and exhibitions honoring the 100th anniversary of his death are being held at galleries around the world, including the Musée Rodin, Paris; the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Legion of Honor, San Francisco. Visitors can share their experience on social media with the hashtag, #Rodin100. For additional information on the global centenary celebration, please visit www.rodin100.org.
The selected works featured in the exhibition at Misericordia University demonstrate Rodin's deep appreciation for the natural form of the human figure. A visionary of his time, Rodin transcended the traditional art styles of the late 19th century, and focused his art on the natural form and vitality of the human figure. Rodin captured the expressiveness and authentic emotion of his subjects in part by using roughly textured bronze surfaces to reflect light, giving the effect of movement. His works were both praised and criticized during his lifetime.
Although perhaps most widely recognized for his sculpture, "The Thinker," many know Rodin for the controversies surrounding certain works, such as "The Age of Bronze," a sculpture begun in 1875. The sculpture was thought to be so life-like that Rodin had to defend himself from critics who suggested it was cast from a live model. He is credited with transforming sculpture into a modern art form and he remains one of the most influential artists of all time.
Among the pieces in the Portraits of a Lifetime exhibition is "Bust of Mrs. Russell," a portrait of Anna Maria Antoinetta Mattiocco della Torre (1865-1908), wife of Australian Impressionist painter John Russell. "He (Rodin) always used a real person to model for his figures – he never made up a face or a figure even if the piece wasn't a portrait," states the Cantor Foundation's website. "An Italian model, she had the classical features that Rodin preferred in women, and after he modeled her bust in 1888 he continued to use her face in other pieces for the next 20 years, most notably in his various figures of Minerva."
Just before he died in 1917, Auguste Rodin authorized the posthumous casting of his bronzes so that his legacy would be preserved. The Musée Rodin in Paris determines what is a true and original cast and rigorously exercises this authority. By law, all posthumous casts must be approved by the Musée. If approved, they are deemed "original."
Accordingly, all of the Rodins in the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collection and Cantor Foundation Collection are original. Most of these artworks were commissioned directly from the Musée Rodin and were cast by its selected foundry, Coubertin.
The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation promotes and recognizes excellence in the arts and enhances cultural life internationally through its support for art exhibitions and scholarship and for the endowment of galleries and sculpture gardens at major museums. Most unusual for a philanthropic foundation, the Cantor Foundation also owns this significant collection of Rodin sculpture. During the last four decades, it has loaned individual works and entire exhibitions to museums in more than 160 cities worldwide allowing more than 10 million people to view these shows.
The Pauly Friedman Art Gallery is closed on Mondays and for all university holidays and snow days. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, please log on to www.misericordia.edu/art or contact Dona Posatko, gallery director, at (570) 674-6250.