Rodin/Nauman exhibits human condition through sculptures in Germany
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Rodin/Nauman exhibits human condition through sculptures in Germany

The exhibition at the Modern Gallery of Saarlandmuseum showcases for the first time the works of late French sculptor Auguste Rodin, and American artist Bruce Nauman, in parallel.

by Sukanya Garg Sep 26, 2019

French sculptor Auguste Rodin left behind a legacy of redefining the human form and the notion of how it is perceived in its physicality, fragmenting and redefining its shape. Contemporary artist Bruce Nauman, on the other hand, through his contemporary multimedia approach, has also been working with sculpture and video to develop work with images of fragmented animal and human body parts. Each of their works, which might appear disturbing to the viewer, evoke a deep sense of alienation. The exhibition Rodin/Nauman at the Modern Gallery of the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrücken, Germany, then, celebrates the two artists, showcasing their works in parallel for the first time on a broad basis.

Auguste Rodin, Le Penseur, moyen modèle, ca. 1880, Gips, patiniert/plaster, patinated, 72 x 37 x, 57,5 cm, Musée Rodin, Paris | Rodin/Nauman | Auguste Rodin | Bruce Nauman | STIRworld
Auguste Rodin, Le Penseur, moyen modèle, ca. 1880, Gips, patiniert/plaster, patinated, 72 x 37 x, 57,5 cm, Musée Rodin, Paris Image Credit: Christian Baraja, Musée Rodin

The exhibition showcases works across media, including sculptures, installations, video works, paper works, neons and photographs. On display are around 140 works, some of them never seen before. 

Auguste Rodin (born 1840 in Paris, died 1917 in Meudon) and Bruce Nauman (born 1941 in Fort Wayne/Indiana, lives and works in Galisteo/New Mexico) are separated by a century. However, they are closely connected by the fact that they both pursued an innovative and radical approach. They have radically changed not only artistic practice, but also our general notion of art. Their artistic concerns and strategies are surprisingly close to one another. What they have in common, in particular, is an elementary indifference to prevailing ideas of beauty, as well as to craftsmanship and perfection. Rather, to take up a phrase by Anatole France, aimed at Rodin, both artists cultivate the "collaboration with catastrophes": in their work construction and deconstruction (if not destruction) go hand in hand. They conceive their art as fundamentally processual and its impetus as unfinishable.

Auguste Rodin, Tête colossale de Pierre de Wissant, 1909, Gips / plaster, 82 x 48,7 x 55,6 cm, Musée Rodin, Paris | Rodin/Nauman | Auguste Rodin | Bruce Nauman | STIRworld
Auguste Rodin, Tête colossale de Pierre de Wissant, 1909, Gips/plaster, 82 x 48,7 x 55,6 cm, Musée Rodin, Paris Image Credit: Christian Baraja, Musée Rodin

Speaking about the exhibition, Dr. Roland Moenig, the curator, said, “Rodin and Nauman have altered artistic practice as well as thinking about art in fundamental ways. The exhibition traces the possible parallels between the pioneer of modern art in France, and the American post-minimalist. The aim is to promote open dialogues between the works of Nauman and Rodin on the basis of which fundamental questions concerning art at both turns of the century open up. At the same time, basic questions of human existence are being addressed.”

Bruce Nauman, Marching Man, 1985, © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019 | Rodin/Nauman | Auguste Rodin | Bruce Nauman | STIRworld
Bruce Nauman, Marching Man, 1985, © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019 Image Credit: Elke Walford

Both artists devote themselves intensively to the emotions and psychological conflicts that drive and block human action - both address the issue of space, which they perceive as existentially charged, and at the same time shape with determination, especially in works which are destined for public places.

Auguste Rodin, Main droite crispée, ca. 1885 (Guss 1913/14), bronze/bronze, 46,5 x 30,5 x 19,5 cm, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz | Rodin/Nauman | Auguste Rodin | Bruce Nauman | STIRworld
Auguste Rodin, Main droite crispée, ca. 1885 (Guss 1913/14), bronze/bronze, 46,5 x 30,5 x 19,5 cm, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz Image Credit: bpk / Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz / Bertram Kober (Punctum Leipzig)

The exhibition Rodin/Nauman has been realised in cooperation with the Musée Rodin, Paris / Meudon, and is supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes and the Kulturstiftung der Länder. The loans will come from important public and private collections in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and the USA. The main lender of Auguste Rodin's works is the Musée Rodin, Paris.

Bruce Nauman, Untitled (Fingers and Holes), 1994, Farblithografie auf Papier/colour lithograph on paper, 76,2 × 101,6 cm, Privatsammlung/private collection | Rodin/Nauman | Auguste Rodin | Bruce Nauman | STIRworld
Bruce Nauman, Untitled (Fingers and Holes), 1994, Farblithografie auf Papier/colour lithograph on paper, 76,2 × 101,6 cm, Privatsammlung/private collection Image Credit: Raphael Maaß © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

The exhibition that began on September 21 is on display until January 26, 2020.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Masters degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions.

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