The human body in all its forms, including the most sensual, was central to the art of Auguste Rodin. His sculptures are a celebration of sensuality and desire, expressed through subject matter, material and the finely polished textures of the flesh. Uninhibited figures, arched poses and intimate couples have an undeniable erotic power that caused many a scandal and continues to fascinate today.

From the sensuality of a single figure…

Rodin’s sculpted bodies are powerfully sensual. The elongation of the figures emphasizes their anatomy: prominent muscles, bones sometimes visible beneath the skin, sensual curves that appeal to the touch (Despairing Youth, The Age of Bronze, Danaid). The arching backs of his female figures accentuate the play of curves (Torso of Adele, Torso of a Young Woman with Arched Back).

The themes of Rodin’s sculptures, whether mythological (Danaid), spiritual (Meditation) or religious (Ecclesiastes), were pretexts for depictions of an often unconventional sensuality tinged with gravity or even despair.

… to the eroticism of a couple

Inspired by love stories, Rodin drew and sculpted couples, some of which―such as The Kiss―have become international icons. Other artists were similarly inspired: Camille Claudel’s sculpture Vertumnus and Pomona is another depiction of passion, showing two figures joined in a close embrace.

Rodin’s fascination with romantic or erotic love led him to explore its many possible forms; he produced many images of Sapphic couples (Two Semi-Reclining Female Nudes) and scenes of abduction (Young Girl Embraced by a Ghost, also known as Cupid and Psyche).

In his unusual depiction of Christ and the Magdalen, the two figures are nude, face to face and at the same height.  The sculptor played on the contrast between the slack, passive figure of Christ and the dynamic twisted posture of Mary Magdalene.

Selection of works