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Why this Rodin scholar is willing to look behind the thinker

I am a secret Rodin scholar. I don’t like people who think. The fame of this sculpture by the French artist Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), a super-muscular man who has lost his thoughts, has always plagued him.

It Wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap In a New Yorker cartoon. Speaking with a rich New York accent, the biceps brachii bends and flirts with a lovely marble sculpture. Night at the museum II.. Banksy version Sit in a drunken stupor and put a traffic cone on your head.

Even the new breathtaking exhibition of Tate Modern Rodin’s making, The macho on the thinker’s face cannot be darkened. The huge plaster version of the main room “spreads” into the visitor’s view and space.

Why did The Thinker (1880) become so popular? And what makes me so uncomfortable about this sculpture?

Male thinker

The original thinker sits on Rodin’s most important sculpture. Gates of hell (1880-1917), originally intended to function as the front door of the Museum of Decorative Arts. Rodin’s monumental door set, inspired by Dante’s Inferno, a medieval poem taken by the ancient Roman poet Virgil on a tour of nine hell circles, shows the distressed body of a cursed man. I will. The thinker, probably thought of as Dante or Minos, seems to approach a fellow person and remind him of the suffering that is happening around him.

At the time of its creation, the male body was the subject of intensive focus in France.The· The weakness of the male citizen It was considered one of the causes of the country’s humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

The French government was afraid of the ongoing degeneration of the population, Medical treatise Explained the symptoms: hysteria, prostitution, alcoholism, and widespread decadence. Vigorous exercise, bodybuilding, and willpower were considered remedies, and new magazines sprung up to promote this supermuscular ideal. 1890, La Revue athletique The new magazine has declared that it will give young men the tool to “love France with infinite love, their hearts are true, and their muscles are stiff.”

In 1904, the same year that life-size thinkers made their debut in Paris, Laculture’s physique, A magazine specializing in bodybuilding explained the statue Apoxyomenos (Scraper) From the ancient Turkish city of Ephesus, which was excavated within 10 years. The ancient Greek sculptural movement acted as a model for bodybuilders at the turn of the century. Pose like a classic statue.. Art students, on the other hand, learn the classic ideals by drawing a solid male body.

Rodin must have been aware of his bodybuilding enthusiasm when he decided to expand and sell the lonely figure of the thinker. It leverages the existing association between sculpture and bodybuilding.

The thinker’s rippling muscles and pensive poses were also inspired by the following classic sculptures: Torso Belvedere, And the Renaissance sculpture after Michelangelo Lorenzo de’Medici..Not surprisingly, the thinker pose bodybuilder finally appeared on the page. Laculture’s physique..

Sexual thinker

Sexuality was essential to the body attachment of healthy French men.The government accused men of lack of vitality for that Surprisingly declining birthrate..

The physique of Laculture is based on Prussian influential people and British entrepreneurs. Eugen Sandow -Who did it call “King of plastic beauty” -Has a child “Vibrant”, “prov[ing] The beauty and health of the athlete was passed on to his descendants. “

I think it’s no coincidence that the awkward pose of the thinker (the right elbow of the left knee) is clearly visible from the front, facilitating a good view of the large genitals located in the center of the sculpture.1 Rodin supporter Claim That “everyone should have the right to see [The Thinker’s] Beautiful teachings about health and ideals. “

The rugged facial features of the thinker also linked this person to the working class in the eyes of contemporary people.

The sculpture enlarged in 1906 10-foot high pedestal In front of the Pantheon, the temple of the “great men” in France, the media called it prehistoric people, soldiers, and Worker Someone who “thinks about the small salary received in a day’s work.”

This classicist discourse led critics to pay attention to the paradoxical character of this sculpture-“It’s Not from muscle The question of that idea “-and Rodin “Gorilla Michelangelo”..

If you compare the physicality of the thinker to animality, he returned to Rodin himself. Rodin was known for his lascivious things and greedy sexual desire. The modern public understood that sexuality was the source of (male) artistic creativity. Rodin used this connection in a monument to the penis with Honoré de Balzac (1898), a 19th-century French literary giant. Masturbating Under his cloak.

So it’s not surprising that writers who praised and criticized the thinker saw it as a kind of thing. Self-portrait, Acting for Rodin as the creator of the artwork.It became very closely related to the artist and a bronze version was put on him Tomb It is located on the grounds of his house in Meudon, a suburb of Paris, and can still be visited today.

The thinker’s classist and sexist implications continue to resonate, as we have seen in recent outfits as Trump supporters, feminists, and drunks.Perhaps this is the reason, the thinker caused violence: first in 1905 a psychotic man Hacked the plaster version It fell apart in Paris, and most recently in 1970, explosives were affixed to bronze cast in front of the Cleveland Museum. Probably protesting the existence of the United States in Vietnam, Destroyed part of the sculpture.

Its intimidating personality-approaching you and pushing yourself into your space with its aggressive masculinity-has always offended some people, including me. Critic Louis in 1904 Flandrin commented: “This crude man seems to me to be a ruminant of his anger.” Thinkers who embody fearless masculinity and exemplify the ideas of outdated sexists and classicists are now It exceeds that prime number.

Rodin’s work is full of our remarkable sculptures, such as small terracotta. Research For thinkers who are also exhibited at the Tate Modern exhibition. Experimenting with clay, the body expresses both uncertainty and energy, depicting the body leaning on with curiosity. This is Rodin working on new ideas, not just sticking to old ones.

Author: Natasha Ruiz-Gómez-Senior Lecturer, Art History, University of Essex

Why this Rodin scholar is willing to look behind the thinker

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