ESSEN, GERMANY.- The Museum Folkwang is showing Auguste Rodin. The Kiss. The Couples, the successful exhibition, which has already attracted more than 120,000 visitors at the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, on view through April 8. 35 sculptures from all periods of Rodins creative career as well as numerous photographs and works on paper afford a comprehensive overview of one of the French masters central subjects. The showing of this exhibition in Essen has been made possible by the longstanding partnership between the Museum Folkwang and Sparkasse Essen.
The Kiss by Auguste Rodin (born 1840 Paris, died 1917 Meudon) is one of a small number of works of worldwide renown, which - like David by Michelangelo or Mona Lisa by Leonardo - are known far beyond European cultural boundaries. As an icon of profound love between man and woman Rodins The Kiss has become part of the collective memory. Closer examination, however, reveals other, perhaps contradictory aspects of this important sculpture.
With The Kiss the exhibition is dedicated to one of of the great French sculptors most popular creations. By placing The Kiss at the centre of the exhibition it focuses on the subject of pairs for the first time and hence reveals a central theme in Rodins creative work. Like no other sculptor, Rodin made the pairing, the linking and combining of individual sculptural forms into new, always changing constellations, a principle of his work and thereby encouraged the emergence of new, shifting meanings. In doing so Rodin always returned to classical pictorial subjects like Pan and the nymph, Eros and Psyche, Paolo and Francesca, Adam and Eve.
The simplistic understanding of Rodins The Kiss apparently has its foundations in the vast number of photographic reproductions available. Mostly shown frontally from a slightly left-of-centre angle they suggest a submissive abandonment in the female figure. However, every three-dimensional work and especially the sculpture The Kiss was made with all-round viewing in mind. When circling the original, totally different perspectives are revealed to the viewer: the man shies away, appears rigid, almost tense, and so it is surprising how persistent even in art historical circles the biased interpretation of The Kiss as an expression of profound physical love could survive. The widespread art historical practice of working with reproductions instead of the original has undoubtedly furthered this common misinterpretation.
The exhibition shows 35 sculptures in marble, bronze, plaster and terracotta from all working periods as well as numerous water-colour tinted drawings, photogravures and photographs from the Musée Rodin, Paris, the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, the Eremitage, St Petersburg, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, as well as from other international museums. This exhibition sheds new light on familiar sculptures, Rodins work appears before our eyes with renewed urgency. Historic photographs, commissioned and authorised by the artist, communicate a more personal, multifaceted view of his sculptural uvre.
The exhibition organised in cooperation with the Hypo-Kunsthalle in Munich will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Hirmer Verlag, Munich (25) with contributions by Anne-Marie Bonnet, Roger Diederen, Gabriele Kopp-Schmidt, Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau and Christian Schoen.