Rodin and dance, the new exhibition at the Musée Rodin

Discover the new exhibition at the Rodin Museum !

Since the 7th April, the Musée Rodin offers a new circuit « Rodin et la danse ». Why and how the sculptor has been inspired by this discipline ? This is what the newsroom tried to find out. Guided tour of this exhibition that will make you dance. 

Auguste Rodin and the starlets of 1900 

At the dawn of the 20th century, art is at a turning point : goodbye to historicism that used to point towards the past with neogothic and neo-Renaissance productions. A fresh wind is blowing on french creation.

As Art Nouveau is booming, dance is emancipating and choreographers are experimenting. Rodin gets interested in these new gestures, so much that he makes some stars of the time come in his studio : the acrobat Alda Moreno becomes his model and Loïe Fuller's drapery, hypnotising the entire community, also seduces Rodin.

Alda Moreno, Rodin's acrobat-muse 

Even if we know little about the life of this artist, we know that her delirious suppleness impresses Rodin, who experiments through sculpture these positions challenging the body

On the left : Alda Moreno, 1/11/1905, photograph from the work Le Nu Académique. Publication of photographic documents for the use of artists, Paris, library of Musée Rodin ©musée Rodin
On the right : Auguste Rodin, dance movement, with head of a Slav woman,1911, terra cotta, H.29,2 cm; L7,9 cm ; P 14,8 cm ©agence photographique du musée Rodin, ph.J.Manoukian

Incidentally, the exhibition « Rodin et la danse » is following the thirteen "dance movements" with Alda Moreno for only model. These sculptures are all made from leg or arm moulds that Rodin assembles and reworks. He gives body to folded or spread out figures revealing the impressive positions of the acrobat-dancer. Like Alda Moreno and her body, Rodin pushes the boundaries of anatomic sculpture.

Moulds, plaster covered with unmoulding product, 1911 © Musée Rodin, ph. P.Hisbacq

During his entire career, Auguste Rodin made every effort to reproduce the human body, its strength and sensuality. Through his studies on dance and his encounters with performers, he discovers movements he never thought of. Paradoxically, some types of dance from 1900 play with drapery, and encourage Rodin to reproduce in sculpture the fabric's oscillations.

Rodin's sculpture and Loïe Fuller's drapery 

She is the most famous dancer from the beginning of the last century. The dance superstar made it with an avant-garde show. Dressed in a very large white dress, she twirls the net fabric around her body. Shapes of flowers and butterflies are created by her gestures. The dancer is an inspiration for Art Nouveau artists, who will represent her many times.

Eugène Druet, Loïe Fuller dancing, silver gelatine print, H.40 cm ; L. 30 cm, © musée Rodin

Auguste Rodin meets Loïe Fuller, but she won't become his model. Her incredible drapery doesn't leave Rodin unmoved. The sculptor is carried away by the play of lights as much as the fabric movements

He reproduced this textile wave on the sculpture « Mercure drapé ». True to himself, Rodin leaves the naked body of Mercure. But, behind him, a big sheet is flying in the air as a dancer's costume. Actually, this fabric allows to catch the gesture preceding the moment.

Auguste Rodin, Mercure with drapery, plaster and fabrics, H.38,7 cm ; L.38cm ; P.45 cm ©musée Rodin, ph. C Baraja

Rodin, the sculptor who inspired dancers  

In Rodin's lifetime, the types of dance in couple remained society or traditional dances, however, he did sculpt today's lift figures. He plays with bodies, with their strength and their respective balance to create bold and avant-garde artworks. No dancer at the time would work these movements, but those who saw these sculptures later, reproduced them. Incidentally, an artist visiting the exhibition said "I have already danced all these lifts !"

Auguste Rodin, Assemblage : Desperate teenager carrying dawn, plaster, before 1889, H.34 cm ; L. 12,5 cm ; P. 18 cm, @musée Rodin, ph. C. Baraja


Also, read : When the Musée des Arts Décoratifs celebrates the duo Margiela/Hermès : a flamboyant exhibition