H. de Roos - What is an original Rodin?


It may be true that moulds are just like print surfaces. But if we would be so lucky to find an unused wood print block, cut by Albrecht Dürer, would it not be a "silly" as well, to insist the prints now produced from it would constitute an ''original edition''? Would not the very fact the artist never used this block require increased caution, if the artist ever wanted this version to be published at all? On the other hand, to call a print drawn from this unused print block a "reproduction" would have a logical flaw as well, since this term would suggest the new print would be a facsimile of a prior "original print" - which would not exist.

The controversy between the Cummer Museum and Gary Arseneau was based on fixed definitions of originality put forward by both sides. Arsenau´s provocative rhetoric, demanding that every "reproduction" that is not labelled as such - according to the definitions supplied by Ralph Mayer´s Dictionary of Art Terms & Techniques - should for this very reason be dismissed as a "fake" and molten down, is always good for newspaper headlines, but during the Toronto symposium and in subsequent correspondence, I asked myself - and my fellow artist in 
Florida -, what evil deeds does this iconoclastic revolt against the alleged manipulations by the French State and Wall Street-based Big Money in the end really reveal, and what good does it do to the public and the dead artist? 

Robert Torchia´s contribution did not start from definitions but from a detailed historiography and questioned the importance suddenly assigned to this long forgotten design, the comeback of the Muses removed from the marble version, the fact Rodin choose to realize his Salon piece in marble instead of bronze. Torchia claimed the model, completed after 1900, based on the "large model incomplete 1897", was by no means a Rodin masterwork, comparable to the Balzac Monument. The way The Cantor Foundation and catalogue essayist Jean Mayo Roos had tried to boost its significance would have been a distortion of historical facts. As a motivation, Torchia saw the Cantor Foundation´s need to install a monumental eye-catcher for their planned exhibition and then add value to the already commissioned casts - Torchia mentioned the Cantor Foundation would possess more than one example. As an additional motivation, he  mentioned the name of one of the Muses, Iris, was identical to Ms Cantor´s first name, suggesting the huge bronze cast would partly be a vanity project.

The fact Torchia brought up such a personal issue and referred to his text as a lecture he would have wanted to present for three years now without ever having had a chance to do so, confirms that an open academic forum on Rodin topics is badly needed. 





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