Rodin sculptures meet Mapplethorpe photos in Paris art show

Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:44pm EDT
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By Johnny Cotton

PARIS (Reuters) - A new exhibition exploring connections between beloved French sculptor August Rodin and controversial U.S. photographer Robert Mapplethorpe has brought a hint of seedy 1980s New York to the heart of Paris.

Born in different centuries and on opposite sides of the Atlantic, the choice to juxtapose the two artists may at first appear far-fetched.

Much of Mapplethorpe's work includes monochrome nudes of male models - often his lovers - while Rodin is celebrated as a pioneering modern sculptor of the second half of the 19th Century whose masterpieces include "The Thinker" and "The Kiss."

Despite the artists' differences, exhibition curator Helene Pinet said there were valid reasons for bringing the two together under one roof in a show that has just opened at the Musee Rodin.

"We put them together because they were both passionate about the human body," Pinet told Reuters TV. "Both of them expressed it, one in photography and the other in sculpture, and as it happens they developed a common vocabulary."

The similarity of form is striking. Echoes of Rodin's celebrated "The Walking Man" - which lacks arms and a head - are found in Mapplethorpe's study "Michael Reed," which presents a man walking with his arms and head shrouded in shadow.

Pinet stressed that Mapplethorpe never was known to have talked about Rodin, an early champion of photography and an avid collector.

But with a classical education and a good friend who was a curator at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, home to an important Rodin collection, he must have been aware of the sculptor, she said.   Continued...

Robert Mapplethorpe, Michael Reed, 1987(L) and Auguste Rodin, The Walking Man, bronze, 1907. (REUTERS/Musee Rodin)