Rodin and Dance: The Essence of Movement
20 October 2016 – 22 January 2017
The first major exhibition to explore the artist's fascination with dance and movement.
When Rodin died in 1917 an unusual group of small-scale sculptures – each just 30cm or so tall – was discovered in his studio. Now known as the Dance Movements, the series captures figures in leaps, twists and other elegant poses. They were highly experimental for the era, Rodin choosing a loose, natural expression of form rather than adhering to the specificity of human anatomy. Never shown outside of his close circle of friends, the artist seemingly created them for his own pleasure rather than public consumption.
During the final years of his life Rodin had become fascinated with dance. Classical ballet was too stilted for his tastes, instead he was drawn to the freer styles of cancan dancers and acrobats. After seeing photographs of Alda Moreno, a performer at the Opéra Comique, he implored his assistant to arrange an introduction. She agreed to model for Rodin and over the next three years he created 50 line drawings of her, working without taking his pencil off the page or his eyes off the dancer.
This exhibition presents the Dance Movements sculptures alongside Rodin’s sketches, not only of Moreno but also of the Royal Cambodian troupe that toured France in 1906 performing the ceremonial ballet of King Sisowath.
Read more about Cambodian dance's influence on the artist in the autumn issue of Art Quarterly, available exclusively to National Art Pass holders.