Auguste Rodin

The Thinker is Auguste Rodin's bronze painting, often placed on a pedestal of stone. The work shows a nude heroic-sized male figure, sitting in a rock with his head resting on his side as deep in thought, generally used as an image to represent philosophy.

Did you know that while Rodin is generally considered to be the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to revolt against the past. He was traditionally educated, a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired educational recognition, although he was never accepted into Paris's leading art school.

Auguste Rodin The Thinker
The Thinker

Rodin's most original work departed from the conventional 

Rodin had a unique ability to design a fluid, chaotic, deeply pocketed surface of clay. Some of his most impressive works have been criticized in his lifetime. They were in conflict with predominant figurative sculpture traditions, in which works were decorative, formulaic or highly thematic. Rodin's most original work departed from the conventional concepts of mythology and allegory, transformed the human body with reality, and celebrated individual character and physicality. Rodin was prone to the controversy surrounding his work, but he refused to change his style. Successive projects have received growing support from the government and the artistic community.

Rodin's fame grew

From the surprising realism of his first major figure, influenced by his 1875 trip to Italy to the unorthodox memorials, whose commissions he later received, Rodin's fame grew and he became the leading French sculptor of his time. He was a world-renowned painter by 1900. Wealthy private clients were searching for Rodin's work after the World Fair, and he kept company with a variety of high-profile intellectuals and artists. He pupils included Antoine Bourdelle, Camille Claudel, Constantin Brâncuşi and Charles Despiau.

In the last year of both their lives, he married his lifelong friend, Rose Beuret. His sculptures experienced a decline in popularity following his death in 1917, but his reputation solidified within a few decades. Rodin is one of the few sculptors that is widely known outside the visual arts community.

What I find interesting is that Rodin preferred his models to move naturally around his studio instead of copying traditional academic postures. The sculptor also made quick drawings of clay that were then fine-tuned, cast in plaster, and cast in bronze or marble. Rodin's attention was on handling clay.

And what is truly amazing is George Bernard Shaw was sitting for a portrait, giving an idea of Rodin's technique while he was working. At the end of the first fifteen minutes, after giving a simple idea of the human form to the block of clay, his thumb produced a bust so alive that George would take it away with him to relieve the sculptor of any further work.

He outlined the development of his bust over a month, going through "all stages of the evolution of art": first, a "Byzantine masterpiece," then a "Bernini intermingled," then an elegant Houdon. "The hand of Rodin worked not as the hand of a sculptor, but as the work of Elan Vital. The hand of God is his own hand."

Rodin hired highly skilled assistants

So here is where I kind of disagree with how some of the work was actually performed. And I have to ask myself if the pieces actually produced are Rodin's work, and I would have to say technically it's not. So here is the method: Upon completing his work in clay, he hired highly skilled assistants to re-sculpt his compositions in larger sizes, including any of his smaller-scale sculptures, such as The Thinker, to cast clay compositions into plaster or bronze, and to cut out his marbles. Rodin's major innovation was to focus on such multi-stage processes of 19th-century sculpture and their dependence on plaster casting.

Clay deteriorates rapidly

Because clay deteriorates rapidly if it is not held wet or fired into terracotta, the sculptors used plaster casts as a means of securing the structure they would make of the fugitive product that is clay. This was common practice among Rodin's contemporaries, and sculptors would show plaster casts hoping that they would be commissioned to create works in a more permanent material. Rodin, however, would have made multiple plasters and treated them as the raw material of sculpture, recombining their parts and figures into new compositions and new names.

So this technique is called innovative, and I guess it is but sounds like to me it more of a common since approach of make use of old art. You be the judge: When Rodin's practice progressed in the 1890s, he became more innovative in his exploration of abstraction, the fusion of figures on different scales, and the creation of new compositions from his earlier work. A prime example of this is the bold The Walking Man from 1899 to 1900, which was shown as his first "one person" series in 1900. It consists of two sculptures from the 1870s that Rodin found in his workshop. A fractured and battered chest, which had been ignored, and the lower extremities of a statuette version of his 1878 St. John the Baptist Predication, which had been re-sculpted on a reduced scale.

By fine-tuning the relation between the upper and the lower, between the torso and the legs, Rodin created a work that many sculptors at the time saw as one of his best and most singular works. This is despite the fact that the object conveys two different styles, shows two different attitudes towards finishing, and ignores any attempt to hide the arbitrary fusion of these two elements.

Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin
It was the flexibility and imagination with which Rodin used these methods, together with his activation of sculpture surfaces by traces of his own touch and his more open attitude towards body posture, sensual subject matter and non-realistic texture, that marked Rodin's re-making of conventional 19th-century sculptural techniques into the model of modern sculpture.

"Auguste Rodin – Art History". Oxford Bibliographies. Retrieved 24 March 2018. Schjeldahl, Peter. "The Stubborn Genius of Auguste Rodin". The New Yorker. Retrieved 7 October 2017. "Rodin was a child of the working class. (His father was a police clerk.)"
By AndrewHorne (talk) - Own work (Original text: I (AndrewHorne (talk)) created this work entirely by myself.), Public Domain.