Auguste Rodin - Legacy

Legacy

Rodin willed to the French state his studio and the right to make casts from his plasters. Because he encouraged the edition of his sculpted work, Rodin's sculptures are represented in many public and private collections. The Musée Rodin was founded in 1916 and opened in 1919 at the Hôtel Biron, where Rodin had lived, and it holds the largest Rodin collection, with more than 6,000 sculptures and 7,000 works on paper.

The relative ease of making reproductions has also encouraged many forgeries: a survey of expert opinion placed Rodin in the top ten most-faked artists. Rodin fought against forgeries of his works as early as 1901, and since his death, many cases of organized, large-scale forgeries have been revealed. A massive forgery was discovered by French authorities in the early 1990s and led to the conviction of art dealer Guy Hain.

To deal with the complexity of bronze reproduction, France has promulgated several laws since 1956 which limit reproduction to twelve casts – the maximum number that can be made from an artist's plasters and still be considered his work. As a result of this limit, The Burghers of Calais, for example, is found in fourteen cities.

In the market for sculpture, plagued by fakes, the value of a piece increases significantly when its provenance can be established. A Rodin work with a verified history sold for US$4.8 million in 1999, and Rodin's bronze Eve, grand modele – version sans rocher sold for $18.9 million at a 2008 Christie's auction in New York. Art critics concerned about authenticity have argued that taking a cast does not equal reproducing a Rodin sculpture – especially given the importance of surface treatment in Rodin's work.

During his lifetime, Rodin was compared to Michelangelo, and was widely recognized as the greatest artist of the era. In the three decades following his death, his popularity waned with changing aesthetic values. Since the 1950s, Rodin's reputation has re-ascended; he is recognized as the most important sculptor of the modern era, and has been the subject of much scholarly work. The sense of incompletion offered by some of his sculpture, such as The Walking Man, influenced the increasingly abstract sculptural forms of the 20th century.

Though highly honoured for his artistic accomplishments, Rodin did not spawn a significant, lasting school of followers. His notable students included Antoine Bourdelle, Charles Despiau, the American Malvina Hoffman, and his mistress Camille Claudel, whose sculpture received praise in France. The French order Légion d'honneur made him a Commander, and he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford.

Rodin restored an ancient role of sculpture – to capture the physical and intellectual force of the human subject – and he freed sculpture from the repetition of traditional patterns, providing the foundation for greater experimentation in the 20th century. His popularity is ascribed to his emotion-laden representations of ordinary men and women – to his ability to find the beauty and pathos in the human animal. His most popular works, such as The Kiss and The Thinker, are widely used outside the fine arts as symbols of human emotion and character. To honour Rodin's artistic legacy, the Google search engine homepage displayed a Google Doodle featuring The Thinker to celebrate his 172nd birthday on November 12th, 2012.

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