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Rodin: rethinking the fragment

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker, 1880-81, The Burrell Collection © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

[O]ne of Auguste Rodin’s most famous works will go on show at Abbot Hall Art Gallery Kendal this summer.

Rodin: rethinking the fragment opens on 10 August and runs until 27 October.

On display is The Thinker (1880-81) – one of Rodin’s most striking works.

The iconic piece is on loan from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow and takes centre stage.

The Thinker is shown alongside three objects from the British Museum:

  • A classical torso from a marble statuette of Venus (about 1st century AD).
  • Royal Academy medal (about 1901), showing the Athenian Acropolis alongside the Belvedere Torso.
  • Eugène Carrière’s portrait of Auguste Rodin, Rodin sculpting (1900).

Abbot Hall is the very first venue in the country to host this British Museum Partnership Spotlight Loan, generously supported by the Dorset Foundation in memory of Harry M Weinrebe.

Venues on this tour will present the work in a different context. Abbot Hall will look at Rodin’s influences and in turn, his influence on Elisabeth Frink.

This is the first time Roman Art has been on show at Abbot Hall. The objects shed light on the influence of classical antiquity on Rodin.

More details about the exhibition:

Rodin: rethinking the fragment explores how the French sculptor (1840-1917) studied the fragments of ancient Greece and Rome, converting the limbless, headless torso into a new art genre.

Lakeland Arts’ Frances Guy, Director of Programming (temporary), said: “We are thrilled to be the first gallery in the country to host this British Museum Spotlight Loan.

“Rodin was the originator of twenty-first century sculpture. He was the catalyst for changing the way artists appreciated sculpture. He made society look at public sculpture in a different, more fluid way.

“This is a really exciting time for Abbot Hall with two excellent exhibitions which are interlinked. Alongside Rodin we have a major exhibition by Elisabeth Frink – one of the most exciting sculptors of modern times. And of course, Frink’s most important influence was Rodin.

“The Spotlight Loan explores the history and development of sculpture from Classical Antiquity to the present. Showing Rodin alongside Frink will invite visitors to compare, contrast and make their own relationships and connections to both artists’ work.”

Barbara Vujanović, Senior Curator, The Ivan Meštrović Museums – the Meštrović Atelier, Zagreb, and Project Curator of this Spotlight loan said: “I am delighted to have worked with the British Museum on this exciting partnership exhibition, which reveals how Rodin viewed fragments from antiquity as works of art to be celebrated. I look forward to seeing the different ways in which the venues approach this exhibition.”

Rodin was a radical and innovative artist who challenged the rules of contemporary sculpture. Perhaps his most important legacy was the idea that a fragment – an incomplete figure or even an isolated hand – could be a work of art in its own right.

The Thinker was conceived to sit high up on Rodin’s The Gates of Hell. His inspiration for the sculpture included one of the most celebrated sculpture fragments to survive from antiquity, the Belvedere Torso.

The spotlight on Rodin coincides with Elisabeth Frink Fragility and Power (Abbot Hall 22 June – 29 September). This exhibition celebrates one of the most exciting British sculptors of the twentieth century and is the first large scale show of her work in the North West for several years.

After Cumbria, rethinking the fragment travels to two UK venues: Holburne Museum, Bath and New Art Gallery, Walsall.

Talks related to Abbot Hall’s Rodin and Frink exhibitions in September:
Elisabeth Frink: Her Life and Her Influences – Jo Baring.
13 September, 6pm.

Lecture one of a two part series exploring Elisabeth Frink, her personal experiences and her greatest influence, Auguste Rodin.

The talk will discuss the incredible body of work made by Dame Elisabeth Frink, one of the most significant sculptors of the twentieth century. Learn more about Frink’s life, influences and working practice.

The talk will be delivered by Jo Baring, Director of the Ingram Collection which is a not-for-profit organisation founded by philanthropist and serial entrepreneur Chris Ingram. The Ingram Collection, one of the UK’s most significant collections of Modern British Art, contains over 700 works of art, of which 500 were lent publicly last year.

Jo leads the strategy on public engagement with the art collection, working extensively with regional museums and galleries, and runs the charity’s ‘Young Contemporary Talent’ programme which supports emerging artists through mentoring, events and exhibitions. She was previously a Director of Christie’s UK and studied at Brasenose College, Oxford, and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

£15/ Friends £10.

Special two speaker event:
Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker: revolutionising modern art
Auguste Rodin, William Burrell, and Scotland
27 September, 6pm.

Lecture two of a two-part series.

It is hard to believe that one of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures, The Thinker has its origin in fragmentary form as part of his larger work The Gates of Hell. Curator of Rodin: rethinking the fragment, Barbara Vujanović, will discuss the meanings and history of The Thinker.

Vujanović graduated from Zagreb University in 2007 and co-authored and co-curated the retrospective of Auguste Rodin’s work at the Art Pavilion in Zagreb in 2015. She is currently Senior Curator at the Ivan Meštrović Museum Croatia.

During the same event Pippa Stephenson, Curator of European Art, Glasgow Museums, will talk about Sir William Burrell’s 1944 donation of his remarkable 9000 objects to the city of Glasgow. Within this collection can be found one of the largest groups of works by Auguste Rodin outside France.

£15/ Friends £10.

Book on both events for £20/Friends £15. Book online or 01539722464.

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