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Word Count: 1,481
It is true that Rodins art makes overt reference to its own artificiality When we say that his kind of realism was not seamless we mean it his sculptures often exposed the joint lines of the piece molds in which they were cast as well as the unfinished marks of modeling and editing Fragmentation and repetition functioned in the same way as instances of the sculptors processes made evident in his product Rodin typically made spare parts - feet hands knees and so on - and put together his figures from these And once he made a figure he would often remake it by recasting multiple versions and variants By showing these processes in the partial figures and modular recurrences of his exhibited work he undercut his own virtuosity as a conjurer of stories in flesh and bone and introduced an evident self-consciousness about the artificiality of arts means It is also true that a lot of Rodins literary and historical themes are inherited and often evoke a kind of Romantic sentiment that many modern sensibilities find cloying They are much less original or prophetic than his radical formal devices Common practice says we can take what we like from a predecessor and ignore things that we do not thats the way a lot of fruitful change happens But in this case if we simply disregard the stories Rodins works tell in order to celebrate his purely formal contributions we are cheating ourselves By ignoring the immediate arena in which the innovations occurred we wind up with an impoverished view of what his achievement was both as a late nineteenth-century artist and as a key innovator in modern art That achievement involved finding new uses for old things in a double sense understanding how aspects of sculpture that seemed unique might be made expressive and also how themes that seemed embalmed in tradition could b e revivifiedin modern terms with these very devices
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