Skip to main content

The Hands of Rodin: A Tribute to B. Gerald Cantor

March 27–June 22, 1997

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917) once spoke of his "intense passion for the expression of the human hands." During his long career he modeled thousands of hands, often as small clay studies, rapidly executed. He infused these hands with vast ranges of emotion, from anger and despair to compassion and tenderness, to intimations of the divine. Keeping many such studies in his studio at Meudon, near Paris, he would examine them as independent forms in space. When Rodin composed a new figure he often experimented by attaching different hands at varying angles to explore the possibilities that fresh combinations revealed. This working method encouraged Rodin's interest in the partial figure and the fragment and he championed the idea that representations of parts of the body, such as the hand, are not necessarily dependent upon a larger whole to convey meaning. This exhibition explores the range of meanings that the hand held for Rodin. It includes small studies of individual hands that are remarkable for the close observation of musculature and torsion; assemblages of hands and other body parts, such as torsos, that confound the viewer's sense of scale and introduce novel symbolic associations. Also on view are full-scale figures in which the gestures of hands play an essential role in conveying meaning. For Rodin, the hand, and the sensuous interplay of hands within groups of figures, were defining components of his sculptures.


Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Art at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock
Portland Art Museum, Oregon

Main Building


Christopher Riopelle

Check out other exhibitions

View full calendar