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Tuesday May 23, 2017
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Rodin at UMMA

 

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In contrast, the massive Orpheus is a study in agony. Depicting the moment Orpheus realizes Eurydice is lost, the work shows an emaciated man stumbling to one knee. A severed hand — the touch of the woman severed from him — appears ghostlike on the back of his harp. The work was inspired in part by Rodin's affection for Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice. This opera also inspired local dance luminary Peter Sparling's original dance Orfeo, which will be performed by Julianne O'Brien Pedersen for free at the museum June 5.

The white marble carving Danade combines the sensual fluidity of Iris and the strained anguish of Orpheus. Clenched into an exhausted ball, the body of this despairing woman from Greek mythology, sentenced to punishment in the underworld, is rendered in sensuous dips and flaring bony bumps that hint at Art Nouveau stylishness.

Like The Thinker and The Kiss, Danade is one of the many Rodin works that were originally components of his masterwork, the eight-ton Gates of Hell. A big photo of these two giant doors, crowned by the familiar figure of the Thinker, representing Dante, shows the door covered with swirls of tortured figures from Dante's Inferno. A nearby documentary video details a 1977 attempt at casting the work in metal, which Rodin never achieved in his lifetime.

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