Eros and Rodin  

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"The principle of Rodin's work is sex-a sex aware of itself, and expending energy desperately to reach an impossible goal." - -Arthur Symons, "Les Dessins de Rodin"


"In his exhibition of drawings, held October 19, 1908, in the Galerie Devambez, in Paris, he showed the most libidinous set of drawings ever exposed to an invited public, in which there were at least two that were frankly pornographic and for which show he was, by both French and foreign people, called "beast", "monster", "vulgar charlatan", "sadist." etc." --Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great (1925), Frederick Ruckstull

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

This page Eros and Rodin deals with eroticism in the work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

  • Auguste Rodin illustrated[1] Octave Mirbeau's The Torture Garden for the 1902 Ambroise Vollard edition.
  • Rodin’s lesbian erotic drawings are not or hardly featured in his sculpture
  • Bernard Champigneulle notes that, “Songs and sighs of love, cries of pleasure and pain, cries of pain and pleasure mingled, the eternal call of woman, the call of man, the restless summons of the human body - all found expression in his work” (Champigneulle 151).
  • Rodin produced most of his erotic sculpture during the decade between 1885 and 1896
  • During his later creative years, Rodin's work turned increasingly toward the female form, and themes of more overt masculinity and femininity. He concentrated on small dance studies, and produced numerous erotic drawings, sketched in a loose way, without taking his pencil from the paper or his eyes from the model. Rodin met American dancer Isadora Duncan in 1900, attempted to seduce her, and the next year sketched studies of her and her students.
  • On a stylistic level, Rodin is the artist who breaks the "erotic frigidaire" of Antonio Canova.
  • The first exhibition at Galerie Devambez was a major show of drawings by Auguste Rodin, exhibited from 19 October to 5 November 1908. The Rodin show caused shock and outrage because of the erotic nature of many of the drawings. The sculptor F. W. Ruckstull was horrified, writing disapprovingly in Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great: ‘In his exhibition of drawings, held October 19, 1908, in the Galerie Devambez, in Paris, he showed the most libidinous set of drawings ever exposed to an invited public, in which there were at least two that were frankly pornographic and for which show he was, by both French and foreign people, called "beast", "monster", "vulgar charlatan", "sadist." etc.’ Others were charmed and delighted by the freshness of Rodin's work. The foreword to the catalogue praised the ‘bold, truthful images’, while the critic of Le Journal wrote that, ‘One cannot find in these hundred and fifty sketches and drawings of Rodin a single note seen before.’

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