Iris et B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, sponsor of the new museography

There is a long-standing partnership between the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and the Musée Rodin. Initiated by B. Gerald Cantor in the 1950s with Cécile Goldscheider (the then director of the Musée Rodin), the connection continues today with the present director, Catherine Chevillot. Friendship is central to this partnership, which is also based on a mutual desire to encourage the study of Rodin and the dissemination of his work. The Foundation’s strongest motivation, however, is the need to ensure the promotion of Rodin’s art.

Following the acquisition by Mr and Mrs Cantor, then by the Foundation, of 750 works by Rodin, 450 of these were donated to museums, including the Brooklyn Museum, the University of Stanford and the North Carolina Museum of Art (to mention only a few). The Foundation’s program of temporary exhibitions in American institutions continues to foster awareness of Rodin’s work.  

Iris et Gerald B. Cantor autour du Baiser, DR

In 2014, Mrs Iris Cantor, now President of the Foundation, responded favorably to the museum’s request concerning its renovation, saying “I consider myself today as personally responsible for my beloved husband’s bequest. For Bernie, and for our mutual love of Rodin, I continue to promote and disseminate Rodin’s work worldwide. From the beginning of the relationship between B. Gerald Cantor and the Musée Rodin, then via the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, there have been plenty of opportunities over the last 60 years to contribute to the life of the museum and provide unfailing support. Purchasing land in Meudon, providing grants to contribute to research, assisting the publication of the Catalogue of Bronzes, commissioning works – invaluable actions such as these stem from our enduring relationship with the museum. Today, we are happy to contribute to the renovation of the Hôtel Biron which will give the museum a new lease of life and allow it to look to the future with optimism.”

The Cantor Foundation and the musée Rodin

The connection between the Cantors and Auguste Rodin began when Bernard Gerald Cantor (1916-1996) developed a passion for the artist’s work after discovering his sculpture in American museums. Mr Cantor visited the Musée Rodin in Paris in the 1950s, meeting chief curator Cécile Goldscheider with whom he developed a strong working relationship. He purchased a great many original editions in bronze from the museum, contributing significantly to the funding of both the Musée Rodin and the Coubertin foundry. He assembled the world’s largest private collection of Rodin’s work, but did not restrict his activity to the private sphere: from the 1970s on, Bernard Gerald Cantor donated works by Rodin to Stanford University (California) where, with art historian Albert E. Elsen, he developed exhibitions on Rodin and research grants.

When Iris Bazel married Bernard Gerald Cantor in 1977, the couple intensified the promotion of Rodin’s work in the United States. Iris Cantor encouraged her husband to develop new projects, and in 1978, they established the philanthropic “Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation,” whose main objectives include the showcasing of the sculptor’s oeuvre.

When the first bronze cast of The Gates of Hell was made (by the Coubertin foundry) using the lost wax technique, Iris Cantor realized the historical significance of this event and coproduced a documentary called Rodin, The Gates of Hell, which filmed all the stages in the casting process over a four-year period. For generations, this award-winning documentary contributed to the understanding of Rodin’s work and of sculpture techniques.

In 1981, the exhibition Rodin Rediscovered, made possible by the Cantors, was inaugurated at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. This landmark exhibition, which met with extraordinary success, featured The Gates of Hell, financed by the Cantors for Stanford. The American public began to rediscover Rodin and art collectors took an increasing interest in his work. 

Iris and B. Gerald Cantor continued their activities in the 1980s with three major donations: to the B. Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden in Stanford (featuring The Gates of Hell and 20 monumental sculptures); to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and to the Brooklyn Museum. Exhibitions focusing on Rodin’s work were organized by the Foundation at each of these venues. Over the years, the couple acquired over 750 sculptures, drawings, prints and archive documents, and distributed over 450 works to more than 70 museums.

Since her husband’s death in 1996, Iris Cantor has continued the Foundation’s work by supporting exhibitions on Rodin and sculpture research grants, and by giving works to museums to allow Rodin’s work to reach the widest possible audience. Iris Cantor and the Cantor Foundation pursue the founder’s passionate quest: to spread Rodin’s legacy.


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