By Kathleen Rose Kennedy
With more than 300 art pieces, it is no surprise that the famous Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art is considered to be the largest exposition in Canada dedicated to the renowned French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. Just think of 300 works of art. There is little information about the largest exhibition in Canada in the press, so we have prepared an article about it written by advanced writers.
The exhibition arrived in the late May, and will be on display till mid October. VMO walked through the ten rooms filled with sculptures, sketches and photographs, and was surprised by the number of visitor there were on a slow Tuesday afternoon – at least 30 people in each room!
Among the 170 sculptures, The Thinker was by far the most famous and recognized sculpture made by Rodin. It was originally made in 1880, measuring only 70cm in height. After its enlargement in 1903, it became even more popular than its forerunner. This bronze meditating man represents the indivisible connection between mind and body.
VMO also learned that Montreal was indirectly connected to this famous sculpture. In 1909, the Art Association of Montreal, the predecessor to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, actually received a small bronze version of The Thinker, and it has remained in our city ever since. This is the first time this enlarged Thinker has ever set foot in Canada, along with The Walking Man and The Hand of God, in which he had used his very own hand as a model.
Rodin used two methods to create his masterpieces: clay and plaster. This was very uncommon at the time, due to the fact that the sculpture had to be moistened at all times, often resulting in pieces falling off – this created his unique artistic technique called fragmentation. He often created new independent works by broken and separated pieces of a whole piece, such as hands, torsos or feet that had fallen from full body structures. He believed sculptures could be considered complete, even with fragmentation.
“A piece of beauty is beauty in its entirety,” Rodin said.
Contrary to common belief, Rodin was religious for a brief period of his life. He entered a sacred order in 1862, after the death of his beloved sister but left shortly after, realizing the Church was not his calling. The Christ and Mary Magdalene sculpture is the best known piece to have been influenced by religion. Made in 1894, the figure of Christ is seen clinging onto Magdalene for support and strength. The contrast between the two bodies exudes sadness and despair.
The sculptor’s signature tool was using hands. He believed hands were the philosophical profundity of creation: “If we can imagine what God was thinking when He created the world, it is of modeling he must have thought of first of all. Is it not funny to make God a sculptor?”
Although Rodin never fully identified with a religious group, it seems as though he maintained a religious mindset, even after he left the monastic life.
If you only have an hour for your lunch break, VMO highly recommends running across town to visit this exhibition. It will fill you with more knowledge about one of the most notable sculptors of our time, with hints of religion, in addition to feeling like you’re waltzing through Paris. And afterwards, you can top it off with some macaroons in the downstairs cafe.
Last Night at the Gayete
The Centaur Theatre's - season is drawing to a close with its final production of Last Night at the Gayety, a musical comedy by Bowser & Blue which runs until May 22nd.