8- A Play of Mediums

The last two exhibition rooms present some of the creative processes developed by Rodin, particularly after 1900. To a large extent, the sculptor reused groups, figures or fragments of his previous works in order to produce new versions of them. Assemblage is a conventional process in sculpture, but Rodin took experimentation much further than had ever been attempted before, either by himself or by others. He had no qualms about combining heterogeneous elements to create a new work, which would suddenly bring out an unexpected significance, or an emotion that the artist himself had not foreseen. The small plaster figures that he placed inside antique vases from his collection thus seem to spring from time immemorial, while whether the hand of one of the Burghers of Calais protects or threatens the Mask of Camille Claudel with which it is assembled still remains a mystery.

Assemblage : Mask of Camille Claudel and left hand of Pierre de Wissant

Rodin also enjoyed changing a sculpture’s expression by reworking it in another material: glass paste (for the portraits of Hanako and Claudel) and stoneware (for Head of Balzac). Plasters could also assume a new appearance: by dipping a cast of Bust of Helene von Nostitz into plaster slip, Rodin smoothed its surface and softened its modelling. He further transformed some of these busts by adding pencil highlights or annotations that give rise to diverse interpretations.

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