This is a well-researched and put together exhibition which established a genuine tone, like Rodin’s passion for antiquities, from the start. The exhibition highlights the importance of artistry, which isn’t necessarily the production of something new, but the reworking of old themes, ideas, models. The quotes that accompany the show are as if the artist and his aides are there to guide visitors through it.
Rodin’s sculptures are incredibly full of emotions, even when they don’t feature a face. A hand can have the same emotional poignancy of a facial expression, and this is something that ties well with his constant quest for the ownership of fragments of sculptures. This led to a specific curatorial attitude to his collection, which was partly open to the elements in his garden. For instance, a Faun was labelled a “God in this rural spot”, where sunlight took “pleasure in caressing his amorous hips”. The sculptures show the artist’s integrity, but were also something moulded by love, embedded in warmth.
Unlike many blockbuster exhibitions that are so fashionable these days, and bear no or little connection with their hosting gallery, this one stems from the visceral passion that Rodin had for the British Museum, as it was almost a shrine containing his favourite ancient sculptures.
We have taken some photos to accompany our review, though Rodin would have hated a society so photo-dependant like ours, as, in his view, the medium didn’t convey enough movement, reducing the photographer to a liar, as nothing remains in perfect stillness in real life.
Rodin and the art of Ancient Greece is on at the British Museum, until 29th July. For more information visit: www.britishmuseum.org