It’s a grey day at the end of October and the sound of gunfire rings out. The teacups rattled on the tables in The Courtauld Gallery Café’s courtyard. A piece of modern art performance being captured on film whilst inside a series of life studies, maquettes and sculptures by Rodin captured the essence of movement
Rodin was a rarity amongst 19th century artists. He was recognized and well considered in his own life-time for the expressive works he produced. Many will know him for the bronzes and marbles that he produce in his last decade and a half created from life studies. These works were experimental and many not shown beyond his close circle of friends.
By drawing the new dance forms and wildly expressive ,strong>movements of the dancers that appeared he was using what was around him at the time. Using life models in his studios and also meeting the dancers at the theatres as well he developed a fluid shorthand for capturing the shapes.
Some of the works concentrated on line and others introduced washes which increased the feeling of movement both in creating the form and giving a livelier background. It was interesting to see the way the drawings changed over time and the terracotta or plaster forms were created.
Dues to the flexibility and strength of the dancers Rodin was able to capture poses that are not often seen in life drawing groups. The new ballets that were being created at the time also reflected a move away from the classic positions. It must have been difficult to decide on which of the many movements to capture and then how to make a free-standing sculpture.
The exhibition took place from 20 October 2016 to 22 January 2017 and was supported by Friends of The Courtauld International Music and Art Foundation, in memory of Melvin R Selden, The Daniel Katz Gallery (London), Stuart and Bianca Roden and the Henry Moore Foundation.
Seeing Rodin’s last major project and learning that he was still experimenting was very up-lifting. Continual study of the body and it’s movement and embracing the new forms of movement in his sixties gives me hope. It also encourages me to be playful and try new ways to be expressive when attending life groups which is a great way to get access to models who may be passive or active.
Some of the works that I create from life study each week get destroyed, some are put in the development drawer as a reminder of what can be achieved by happy accident or planned experiment, whilst finished works are offered for sale.
PS I don’t know what the movie being shot was, but it involved Michael Keaton in a Polish market.
The drawing at the top of this blog is a sketch idea for a painting, by Kathryn Sassall, of a dancing drummer who was twirling at a show in the Dubai desert.
“Get Set” shows a life model in the traditional position for a race start. No blocks though.