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“Rodin-Giacometti”, the connection of the two geniuses of sculpture, in Madrid

Madrid / Separated by a generation, Auguste Rodin and Alberto Giacometti never met. Even so, their trajectories follow a parallel path full of similarities in their works, their creative process and their incessant search for a new language that conveys the emotions and fragility of the human being.

“Rodin-Giacometti”, which opens this February 6 until May 10 at the Mapfre Foundation in Madrid, is organized by the Rodin Museum and the Giacometti Foundation, both in Paris.

The exceptional list of sculptures, brings together famous works such as “The Walking Man”, a replica of the “Monument des Bourgeois de Calais”, a representation of St. Peter of Rodin or “Standing Figure” of Giacometti.

“They are well-known works, but they do not cease to amaze by their beauty,” explained the director of the Mapfre Foundation, which has in this exhibition the highlight of its 2020 program.

Although the relationship between both artists is obvious –Giacometti is the one who looks at Rodin throughout his life except for his stay in Paris-, he has rarely been investigated or highlighted in an exhibition, as the curator and director of the Giacometti Foundation, Catherine Grenier.

Posthumous dialogue

The two geniuses enter into this exhibition a posthumous dialogue with nine thematic sections. On the table; Two hundred sculptures, photographs and drawings, in which, despite their own styles, there is a clear and precise common objective: to reflect the emotions of the human being, sums up Catherine Chevillot, curator and director of the Rodin Museum in Paris.

While Rodin is concerned with expressing the complexity of human existence, Giacometti sculpts in his works the fragility of man and pours in his pieces the disenchantment and existentialism of the interwar period.

The human being and life will be the constant source of inspiration for both authors.

The visitor is received by the monumental “Monumento des Bourgeois de Calais“, next to him, several photos of the original piece in Le Vésinet, the Rudier Park – the founder of both – and that Giacometti appears posing as a statue. In his words he felt like “in a magnificent museum of contemporary sculpture.”

In “Rodin-Giacometti” you can see how both raised the accident as part of their style, moving away from the polished and finished forms of the sculptural tradition; they turned the deformity into a sign of identity and were fond of classical antiquity, as can be seen in Egyptian and Greek sculptures of their private collections.

Relationship in the creative process of Rodin and Giacometti

The sample stops at establishing the close relationship in the creative process of both. Both worked with series, the repetition of a motive to infinity.

“A sculpture is not an object, it is a question … it cannot be finished or perfect,” Giacometti used to say. Probably, both curators point out, the person responsible for this coincidence was Antoine Bourdelle, a disciple of Rodin and a teacher of Giacometti.

As proof, the series of the Japanese dancer Hanako, of which the French sculptor made up to 58 sculptures, and the numerous versions of Giacometti of the bust of his brother Diego and the model Rita Gueyfier.

But if there is a section that reflects the similarities and also the different periods in which the trajectories of both are registered, it is almost at the end of the tour, where the two versions of “The Walking Man” of Giacometti and Rodin are located.

The first is a fragile and worn figure, in front of the muscular as well as Rodin’s tragic proposal. Both are a metaphor for human existence, both “reflect their common search for the essential,” according to Grenier. (February 6, 2020, EFE / Practica Español)

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