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Auguste Rodin

French, 1840 - 1917

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François-Auguste-René Rodin was born in Paris in 1840. By the time he died in 1917, he was not only the most celebrated sculptor in France, but also one of the most famous artists in the world. Rodin rewrote the rules of what was possible in sculpture. Controversial and celebrated during his lifetime, Rodin broke new ground with vigorous sculptures of the human form that often convey great drama and pathos. For him, beauty existed in the truthful representation of inner states, and to this end he often subtly distorted anatomy.

His genius provided inspiration for a host of successors such as Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi and Henry Moore. Unlike contemporary Impressionist Paul Cézanne---whose work was more revered after his death---Rodin enjoyed fame as a living artist. He saw a room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York dedicated to his work and willed his townhouse in Paris, the Hôtel Biron, to the state as a last memorial to himself. But he was also the subject of intense debate over the merits of his art, and in 1898 he attracted storm of controversy for his unconventional monument to French literary icon Honoré de Balzac.

Echoes: Celebrating 75 Years of Rodin in Philadelphia, 2005

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