H. de Roos - What is an original Rodin?


How Should we Refer to Posthumous Casts?

The term "original edition" as proposed by Chatelain suggests this Midas hand would even reach beyond the grave, to bestow us with further original works. In fact, the artist only left us his mould or model. We have seen Chatelain´s concept, ignoring the active participation of the artist in translating this model into to a finished bronze, is problematic in those cases, the sculptor also actively dealt with the execution process. Further, we do not know exactly which objects he thought to be suitable as models for such editions. As a consequence, the Musée Rodin or other edition issuers and the artisans they employ to a certain degree step into decisions the artist would have kept to himself - and provoke critique, as voiced by John Tancock, Robert Torchia and Catherine Campbell. 

More over, even though Rodin´s active participation in the execution of his bronzes varied and the year of casting and the Musée Rodin copyright mark, being properly stamped on the Musée Rodin casts properly discloses their posthumous nature, it should be admitted that the use of the term ''original'' may lead to false expectations with the general public. In the best case, it produces confusion:


Rodin Sculpture Garden

Dedicated in May 1985, is the B. Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden at the Cantor Arts Center features the largest concentration of outdoor art by Auguste Rodin outside the Musée Rodin in Paris. The Garden includes Rodin's most ambitious work, The Gates of Hell, which was created over a 10-year period, plus 19 other bronzes. In addition, two of the Cantor Arts Center's galleries present another 60 of his works, primarily in bronze but also in marble, plaster, wax, and terra cotta.

The Garden was designed so that it would recall in spirit the gardens in which Rodin exhibited his public art and it provides a spacious, natural setting for each sculpture. All of the bronze casts are authentic and originals, having been made from Rodin's plasters in limited editions by Rodin's heir, the French government.

[From: "Rodin by Moonlight" Black Tie Event, announcement for 6 October 2001 event,
under www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA/rodinmoonpress.html. My italics - HdR]

Rodin exhibit dogged by challenge to several works' originality

"They act as if the living presence of the artist is not necessary to create art," Arseneau said. "That's ridiculous. If it was cast during his lifetime, at least it was authorized. When he died, the right to sign his name died with him. In other words, it's counterfeit."
"Not according to Rodin, it isn't," said Judith Sobel, director of the Beverly Hills, Calif.,-based Cantor Foundation and former director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
During Rodin's life, it was common practice for multiple duplicates of a work to be cast. After he died, Rodin left his drawings, original plaster sculptures and the right to reproduce them to the French government, which established a museum -- the Musee Rodin -- in Paris. Since the mid-1950s, French law has limited the number of castings of any one work by Rodin to 12.
The late B. Gerald Cantor, founder of the Cantor Foundation and the Cantor Fitzgerald securities firm, was an avid collector of Rodin's work. Many of the pieces in his collection were cast in recent years under the strict rules of the French government and the Musée Rodin.
"So these are original pieces cast after his (Rodin's) death and at his direction," Sobel said.

[From: Pat Shellenbarger, Rodin exhibit dogged by challenge to several works' originality,
in The Grand Rapids Press, published 13 Jan. 2002. My Italics - HdR]

A "show of original Rodin sculptures" should contain casts made or at least authorized by the artist in person, with regard to the specific execution of the work and not only by the general power of attorney he left to the French State.




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