Sophie Biass-Fabiani, Catherine Chevillot, Hélène Marraud, Véronique Mattiuss, Sylvie Patry, Paris, Philadelphia, 2017.
Hardcover, 288 pp., color and b/w illus. throughout.
This fully illustrated 288-page exhibition catalogue traces common threads of architecture, emotion, and the human body through the works of Auguste Rodin and Anselm Kiefer. With an introduction by Catherine Chevillot and Sylvie Patry; letters from Anselm Kiefer; essays by Sophie Biass-Fabiani, Véronique Mattiussi, and Hélène Marraud; and an interview with Anselm Kiefer by Véronique Mattiussi.
Kiefer Rodin centers on two major threads connecting these artists: a shared interest in architectural ruins and a creative process rooted in the idea of mutability. In Cathedrals of France, the book that sparked this exhibition, Rodin lamented the abandonment of France’s historic cathedrals, especially Gothic cathedrals, which he regarded as major achievements in human history and sources of inspiration for his own art. This theme of ruins and national identity is at the core of Kiefer’s practice, most famously expressed in his enormous, devastating paintings confronting Germany’s troubled past.
Rodin’s artistic methods were also of great interest to Kiefer. The most radical sculptor of his time, Rodin created bodily forms that appeared rough and unfinished by traditional standards. They revealed—rather than covered up—the messiness of the creative process. Rodin kept sculptural fragments (arms, legs, heads) around his studio that he would continually assemble and reassemble to create new works of art. Because his own practice can be described as a constant process of disassembling and reconfiguring, Kiefer found a new and almost urgent relevance in Rodin’s work.
Kiefer Rodin is part of the worldwide initiative taking place in 2017 commemorating the centennial of Auguste Rodin’s death. Also included in this series of major Rodin projects—all unified under the hashtag #Rodin100—is The Kiss installation at Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum, located next to the Barnes on the Parkway. The museum is home to over 140 bronzes, marbles, and plasters, representing every phase of Rodin’s career, and the new installation explores the artist’s intimate and powerful depictions of romantic love.
The collaboration between the Barnes and the Musée Rodin, along with the incredible Rodin offerings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum, offers an unprecedented, in-depth exploration of the Rodin’s work. In 2017, Philadelphia will be the destination to see the largest gathering of the artist’s work in the US.