The International Studio, Vol. 70

The International Studio, Vol. 70

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Excerpt from The International Studio, Vol. 70: An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art

One has only to compare such early works as The Kiss and The Dream with The Hand of God and The Muse, to become aware that beyond the wonder of the human body as a field of planes and surfaces that re?ect the outer play of light, Rodin saw the wonder of the human soul that radiates through matter creating plastic effects that are bewildering in their subtlety. Maria Rilke says that the fundamental element of Rodin's art was the surface, and again we find the following conclusion: His art was not built upon a great idea, but upon a minute conscientious realisation, upon the attainable, upon a craft. It is surely in a technical and superficial sense only that such statements can be considered either just or correct. In his keen plastic appreciation of the multiple e?eects achieved by Rodin's skill, Rilke overlooks the underlying cause, and the impulses of this giant energy that poured itself into endless moulds.

Rilke would have us believe that Rodin was essentially a sculptor of objective life, rather than of subjective ideas, but Rodin's own state ment, as given to us in the extremes of his work, clearly reveals that he had achieved unique mastery in both expressions. It seems strange that with his poetic insight and aesthetic judgment Rilke should not have perceived this dual power which constitutes the distinguishing glory of Rodin's work. It is true, that in his interesting criticism of Rodin's use of gesture, Rilke has conceded to a certain extent that Rodin had conscious vision, and philosophic as. Well as plastic messages to convey, though even on this point we are led to believe that hieratic gestures were sculptured rather to reveal the beauties of the body than the purposes of the soul.

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