H. de Roos - What is an original Rodin?


The quoted text already illuminates one major problem when we try to define the original in Rodinīs work: An "original" work of art is "one which has never been done before", writes Chatelain. At the symposium, Dr Schaff referred to descriptions like "unique" or "one of a kind". But, as also pointed out by Alexandra Parigoris at the Toronto symposium, every object we meet in our life is in a certain sense "unique" and "never done before", for the simple fact it distinguishes itself, in the specific time of its existence and the specific space it occupies, from all other objects. 

In the case of Rodin, this insight gains art-historical significance, for even his clay models, that I referred to till now as the original, often are compound objects, parts of long series of studies and variations and, in many cases, themselves a result of multiplication procedures. Before a single clay model was selected to be cast in plaster and subsequently translated into marble or bronze, Rodin developed a whole set of variations and generations, in clay and in plaster, all having the status of "originals". At the other end of the chain, Rodin often supervised the carving and the casting closely and reserved the right to reject pieces that were not correctly executed, as described already. 

So with the recognition of the unique creative faculty of the master artist and the notion he never repeats himself but adds artistic quality to every item he touches, we indeed come "to the point where any work realized by the artist himself is an original work" and "any reproduction of an artistīs work made by someone else, no matter what the process might be, is without real artistic value", as Chatelain writes in the paragraph quoted in italics. 
An original art work must be realized by the artist himself, and anything the artist realizes, is an original. The original is unique, but it shares this quality with a whole series of other related originals, all dealing with the same subject, all created by the same artist.




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