H. DE ROOS: RODIN AT THE R.O.M. - What is the original?


The Rodin Symposium at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto was organized to discuss the question, what are original or authentic art works, what are reproductions and what are fakes, and what is the meaning of these distinctions, especially relating to the exhibition "Rodin - from Plaster to Bronze" at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and the practice of posthumous casting of Rodin sculptures.

The R.O.M exhibition shows plasters and posthumous bronze casts in the process of being donated to the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario and intends to educate the public about Rodinīs way of working with plaster, especially about the translation from plaster to bronze.

My personal involvement with Rodin and the themes of this Symposium comes from my activity as a photographer and as a web-publisher, and my academic background as a political scientist.

Because of my Rodin Photo Project, I had been intensively  involved with Rodinīs work since 1991. My Website RODIN-WEB was another expression of this interest. It was created to function as an independent global platform for information and discussion on Rodin and went online in May 2001.

When I read about this donation of plasters to the MacLaren Art Centre, I contacted the Museum to learn more about the background of this collection. In this e-mail conversation, MacLaren Art Centre Director William Moore and I agreed on the point, that "posthumous casting is a very sensitive point in the Rodin world". From this communication, the concept for this Symposium developed, with the intention of initiating an open expert discussion on the merits of this collection.

On 6 November 2001, this Symposium actually took place, based on the outline written in June. Dr. David Schaff, Senior Curator, Alexandra Parigoris, art historian, Robert Torchia, art historian, Gary Arseneau, artist and art gallerist and I delivered our presentations to a highly interested audience and publicly discussed our views. After the Symposium, this discussion continued by frequent email correspondence between the panel members and the Museum staff. From this, the Rodin-Web compiled a 200-page report, covering all discussion topics in detail.

Since the larger audience may not be interested in these detail questions, I have decided to restrict my publication to only two sections of the original report now, dealing with:

A. The general question, what is the original and which criteria and terms should be applied when we discuss posthumous casting

B. The question, how the age and authenticity of the Maclaren plasters can be determined and how to define categories for a scientific catalog.

I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to contribute information, answer my letters, express his (or her) opinion, or support this project in any other way.

Hans de Roos

26 June 2002





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