Meijer Gardens opens Rodin exhibit for ArtPrize


"Dark Forest Head I," 2013, by Emily Young. Courtesy Meijer Gardens/Angelo Plantamura

An exhibit featuring works by Rodin and 17 contemporary figurative sculptors has opened at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park as part of ArtPrize.

“Rodin and the Contemporary Figurative Tradition,” which opened to members only Sept. 14, features several of the French master’s most famous works, alongside sculptures from 17 international artists who cite Rodin as one of their primary artistic influences. The artists created their sculptures at various scales and in numerous materials, including concrete, bronze, marble, wood and even a time-based video creation.

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was considered one of the most revolutionary figurative artists in history and the most avant-garde sculptor of his age. He worked on his masterpiece, “The Gates of Hell” — a sculpture group depicting scenes from Dante’s “Inferno” and including works like “The Thinker” and “The Kiss” — for almost 40 years and didn’t live to see it cast in bronze.

“Often regarded as the ‘father’ of modern sculpture, Rodin’s legacy is the cornerstone of our collection,” said Joseph Becherer, chief curator and vice president of exhibitions and collection at Meijer Gardens.

“This exhibition allows us to explore the boldly impactful way he has inspired major aesthetic trends even today. From representations of figure to use of materials, these selected works allow us to understand both an historic icon and the vitality of the figurative tradition today.”

The Meijer Gardens exhibit is timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Rodin’s death. It will feature sculptures on loan from Grand Rapids Art Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Snite Museum of Art and Indianapolis Museum of Art. Rodin’s works, “Age of Bronze,” “Head of Balzac,” “Man with Broken Nose,” “The Martyr #5” and “The Vulcan’s Forge” will be displayed, as well as Meijer Gardens’ own casting of “The Kiss.”

The exhibit is open to the public 15 through Jan. 7, 2018, and is free during ArtPrize, which runs Sept. 20 through Oct. 8. All 17 contemporary sculptors are registered artists in the ArtPrize competition.

Another of Rodin’s best-known works, “Eve,” is part of Meijer Gardens’ permanent collection and is located in its outdoor Sculpture Park. As part of the exhibit programming, Meijer Gardens will offer visitors an outdoor sketching opportunity using “Eve” as a model.

Meijer Gardens also will feature a handful of related programs during the exhibit. More information is available online.

Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a 158-acre botanical garden and sculpture park with several indoor galleries.

Founded in 1995, the destination serves 750,000 visitors annually. It features Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; indoor galleries with changing sculpture exhibitions; the eight-acre Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1,900-seat outdoor concert amphitheater.

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