The aura surrounding the name of Auguste Rodin (Paris, 1840 – Meudon, France, 1917) means his difficult beginnings are often overlooked. He studied outside of the École des Beaux-Arts [School of Fine Arts], where he was rejected on three occasions. One of his first works, Man with the Broken Nose, was excluded from the Paris Salon. On a trip to Italy, he came into contact with the sculptures of Michelangelo and Donatello. In 1880 he was commissioned to produce The Gates of Hell for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs [Decorative Arts Museum] in Paris. The work includes hundreds of figures including some of his most renowned, such as The Thinker and The Kiss.
Rodin transformed the concept of public monument. In The Burghers of Calais he presented six characters within the same plane, breaking with the traditional pyramid structure. The Paris World’s Fair of 1900 placed him at the forefront of artistic modernity; from that point onward, he became an essential reference for sculptors who were forced to compare their work in relation to his. Some value Rodin’s sincerity and the clarity and balance found in his work, others its emotion, strength and expressivity.
After World War I, Rodin paved the way for artists seeking a method for representing anguish and desire by using partial figures, presenting fragments of the body as finished sculptures.