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Exhibition at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts explores Auguste Rodin's studio and process
Auguste Rodin, The Thinker.

RICHMOND, VA.- An exhibition honoring the creative genius of master sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from November 21, 2015 to March 13, 2016. Drawn primarily from collections of the Musée Rodin, Paris, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition brings together more than 200 objects – fragile plasters, patinated bronzes, marbles, ceramics and works on paper – and examines the artist’s creative process. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about Rodin’s techniques, materials, models, and assistants, and to explore the artistic vision behind some of his best known works – including The Kiss, The Thinker, and The Burghers of Calais. The presenting sponsor for the exhibition is Altria Group.

“Rodin completely revitalized the very language of sculpture with his passion for the creative act,” Director Alex Nyerges said. “His work has captivated human imagination for more than a century, and is still relevant and contemporary today. We are honored that VMFA is the premiere East Coast venue for this fantastic exhibition.”

During the 19th century, Rodin became one of the most successful French artists and received many commissions for public monuments. In addition to creating enduring public works, he was a tireless artist who produced numerous small and poetic sculptures, as well as portrait busts. Garnering international acclaim for more than a century, he is widely regarded as the pioneer of modern sculpture and its most skilled exponent of symbolism.

Rodin: Evolution of a Genius is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée Rodin, Paris. It is organized for VMFA by Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art. The exhibition catalogue, with contributions on Rodin’s process by leading scholars, is published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition is organized into eight sections: The Hand of the Master, The Art of Assemblage, Rodin and his Models, Sculpture in Space: Enlargements, Fragments, Pedestals, Timeline: Rodin’s Life and Career, Rodin and his Collaborators: the Marbles, and Bronze: Rodin’s Legacy, the Studio-Museum.

Contemporary video installation: The Burghers of Vancouver
Rodin’s famous sculpture The Burghers of Calais (1885) commemorates an event in 14th-century France when the port city of Calais was under siege. England’s King Edward III offered to spare the town from destruction if six leading citizens would surrender themselves to him with the keys to the city. Six men came forward, but their lives were spared when the Queen of England intervened and prevented her husband from executing them. Rodin’s statue was commissioned more than 500 years after this event and captures brave, selfless men as they walked to the city gates. Three of the six figures from Rodin’s work are included in Rodin: Evolution of a Genius.

A video installation, created by artist Adad Hannah and filmmaker Denys Arcand, revisits the concept of the urban monument by recreating The Burghers of Calais using present-day models. The Burghers of Vancouver tells the story of six people hired temporarily by a mysterious patron to enact Rodin’s famous sculptural ensemble as a tableau vivant in downtown Vancouver. A nameless poet, a Korean woman who only speaks in her native language, a fraud artist, a ski bum, a laid-off worker, and an ex-junkie meet every day, don their costumes, assume their roles on the square in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and then go home at the end of the day. They each take the pose of one of the six figures making up the Rodin sculpture and recount what led them to accept this work and how they are experience the project, which seems to take place without any notice from passers-by. The Burghers of Vancouver will be installed in VMFA’s Lewis Focus Gallery throughout the exhibition.

Visitors will have a chance to engage with a contemporary sculptor at work. Located in the Cochrane Atrium, the Sculptor Cart will feature a different artist every two weeks. Different sculpting materials and tools will be available to explore through touch.

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