Why this scientist Rodin is ready 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 head, has always tormented him.

He wears a red “Make America Great Again” cap from a New Yorker cartoon. Speaking with a rich New York accent, the bicep brachii flexes 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 breathtaking new exhibit from Tate Modern Rodin’s creation, The Macho on the Thinker’s Face cannot be clouded over. The huge plaster version of the main room “extends” into the view and space of the visitor.

Why has Le Penseur (1880) become so popular? And what makes me so uncomfortable about this sculpture?

Male thinker

The original thinker is seated on Rodin’s most important sculpture. Gates of Hell (1880-1917), originally intended to serve as the gateway to the Museum of Decorative Arts. Rodin’s monumental door set, inspired by Dante’s Hell, a medieval poem taken up by the ancient Roman poet Virgil during a visit to Nine Hellish Circles, shows the distressed body of a cursed man. I go. The thinker, probably considered as Dante or Minos, seems to approach another and remind him of the suffering going on around him.

At the time of its creation, the male body received intensive attention in France. The · The weakness of the male citizen It is considered as one of the causes of the humiliating defeat of the country during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.

The French government feared the on-going degeneration of the population. Medical Treatise Explained the symptoms: hysteria, prostitution, alcoholism and widespread decadence. Vigorous exercise, strength training, and willpower were considered cures, and new magazines sprang up to promote this supramuscular ideal. 1890, La Revue athletique The new magazine declared that it would give young men the tool to “love France with infinite love, their hearts are real and their muscles are stiff”.

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

Rodin must have been aware of his enthusiasm for bodybuilding when he decided to enlarge and sell the solitary figure of the thinker. It is based on the existing association between sculpture and bodybuilding.

The thinker’s rippling muscles and thoughtful poses were also inspired by the following classical sculptures: Torso Belvedere, And Renaissance sculpture after Michelangelo Lorenzo de’Medici. Unsurprisingly, the thinker pose bodybuilder finally appeared. on the page. The physique of Laculture.

Sexual thinker

Sexuality was essential to the attachment to the body of healthy French men. The government has accused men of lack of vitality for this surprisingly falling birth rate.

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

I think it is no coincidence that the thinker’s awkward pose (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. claims that “everyone should have the right to see [The Thinker’s] Beautiful teachings on health and ideals. “

The thinker’s rough facial features also connected this person to the working class in the eyes of contemporary people.

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

This classicist discourse has led critics to pay attention to the paradoxical nature of this sculpture – “It is not muscle The question of this idea” – and of Rodin “Gorilla Michelangelo”.

If you compare the thinker’s physicality to animality, it comes down to Rodin himself. Rodin was known for his lustful things and his greedy sexual desire. The modern public has understood that sexuality is the source of artistic (male) creativity. Rodin used this connection in a monument to the penis with Honoré de Balzac (1898), a 19th-century French literary giant. Masturbate under his coat.

So it’s no surprise that writers who praised and criticized the thinker saw him as some sort of thing. Self-portrait, Acting for Rodin as creator of the work. He became very closely related to the artist and a bronze version was placed 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’ve seen in recent outfits as Trump supporters, feminists, and drunkards. in Paris, and more recently in 1970, explosives were affixed to cast bronze in front of the Cleveland Museum. Probably to protest against the existence of the United States in Vietnam, Destroyed part of the sculpture.

His intimidating personality – approaching you and pushing you into your space with his aggressive masculinity – has always offended some people, including me. The critic Louis Flandrin in 1904 commented: “This rude man seems to me to be a ruminant of his anger. Thinkers who embody fearless masculinity and exemplify the ideas of sexists and outdated classics now exceed that prime number.

Rodin’s work is full of our remarkable sculptures, like small terracotta. Research For thinkers who are also on display at the Tate Modern exhibition. Experimenting with clay, the body expresses both uncertainty and energy, representing the body supported with curiosity. It is Rodin who works on new ideas, not just to stick to old ones.

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

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