There is in Rodin a very pagan concern for the life-death continuum: clay as a manifestation of life and death. . . . It is a way of reminding us about the complexity of being in a body, of being alive.
We like to associate or confront Rodin’s works with the work of his own contemporaries, his own collection, and with the work of contemporary artists. . . . When we put two works that come from two different places together, they show us intimate truths.
—Amélie Simier, director of the Musée Rodin, Paris
Gagosian is pleased to present new sculptures by Thomas Houseago and posthumously cast bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin, selected in collaboration with the Musée Rodin in Paris. This is the gallery’s second joint project with the museum, the first being Rodin - Sugimoto at Gagosian Paris in 2011. On the occasion of the exhibition, Rodin’s sculpture Monument à Whistler – Muse nue, bras coupés (Monument to Whistler – Nude Muse, without Arms, 1908) will be unveiled in Berkeley Square on September 7, 2021, and will remain on view until March 2022.
Houseago | Rodin juxtaposes two artists separated by more than a century who share a fascination with the human body’s physical and emotional dynamism. A suite of bronzes by Rodin is set in dialogue with Houseago’s sculptures cast in bronze, zinc, and brass. Rodin’s ability to suggest warmth, movement, and pathos in sculpture has long captivated Houseago, whose own rugged, visceral creations situate the historical medium within a distinctly contemporary view of the eternal human struggle. His Gold Walking Man (2021) strides across the gallery, its looming headless form burnished to a golden patina, while the Rock Demons (2021–)—a new series of small sculptures that are tactile, talismanic, and archaic in appearance—possess a material heft that embodies the weight of psychological revelation.
Three large-scale sculptures by Rodin flesh out the space. Created for the artist’s famous 1900 exhibition at the Place de l’Alma, Pierre de Wissant, nu monumental sans tête ni mains (Pierre de Wissant, Monumental Nude without Head or Hands, 1886) depicts a figure from Les Bourgeois de Calais (The Burghers of Calais, 1884–89), for which Rodin first sculpted nude versions of each figure in the composition in order to study the effect of draped fabric on the human frame. In Aphrodite, grand modèle (Aphrodite, Large Model, 1914), originally conceived as a plaster sculpture to appear onstage during a play inspired by a Pierre Louÿs novel, Rodin reimagines the classical subject. Focusing on sensuous form and texture, he establishes an overarching sense of rhythm and movement. Fils d’Ugolin, sans tête (Son of Ugolin, without Head, 1904), was excerpted and enlarged by Rodin, at the end of his life, from a figure group in La Porte de l’Enfer (The Gates of Hell, 1880–1917). The titular son raises an arm to embrace his father with both love and despair, exemplifying Rodin’s nuanced and sensitive touch.
Houseago | Rodin speaks to the powerful sensuality of sculpture across time; modern sentiments arise from Rodin’s bronzes, while Houseago delves into humanity’s primordial past for inspiration. Both artists mine transitional moments “between being alive and dead,” as Houseago puts it, “between being matter and something other than matter.”
The exhibition coincides with The Making of Rodin at the Tate Modern, London. On view until November 21, this is the first major museum presentation to focus on Rodin’s use of plaster.
17–19 Davies Street
London W1K 3DE
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10–6
Walk-ins welcome, but subject to capacity.
Thomas Houseago: Encountering Rodin
Thomas Houseago and Amélie Simier, director of the Musée Rodin, Paris, talk with Gagosian director Richard Calvocoressi about contemporary sculpture and its foundation in the radical forms of Auguste Rodin.
Work in Progress
With preparations for Houseago’s Los Angeles exhibition in progress, Deborah McLeod brings us a glimpse inside the artist’s studio.
Monument à Whistler – Muse nue, bras coupés
September 7, 2021–March 2022
Berkeley Square, London
Auguste Rodin’s Monument à Whistler – Muse nue, bras coupés (Monument to Whistler – Nude Muse, without Arms) (1908) has been installed in Berkeley Square, London, in conjunction with the exhibition Houseago | Rodin, on view at Gagosian, Davies Street, London, through December 18. Rodin was commissioned to make a monument dedicated to the artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Though it was never realized publicly, the monument marks a watershed moment in civic sculpture due to its representation not of the artist himself but of a female muse. The sculpture, in the form of a female figure shown climbing the “mountain of fame,” references the difficulties Whistler overcame in his life.
Auguste Rodin, Monument à Whistler – Muse nue, bras coupés (Monument to Whistler – Nude Muse, without Arms), 1908, installation view, Berkeley Square, London
Bustes de Femmes
Paris 10th Anniversary Exhibition
October 10–December 18, 2020
rue de Ponthieu, Paris