Tête de Balzac [Head of Balzac]
Auguste Rodin’s Monument of Honoré de Balzac, honoring the famous 19th-century French novelist, was highly controversial, to say the least. Standing aghast in front of the full-length plaster model at the Salon exhibition in 1898, Parisian audiences and critics described a head that, bearing the weight of its thoughts, had become deformed, even grotesque. This sculpture was cast in bronze by Georges Rudier nearly fifty years after Rodin’s death from one of the numerous plaster fragments and studies made in preparation for the monument and left behind in the artist’s studio. With its black and green patina, the murky appearance of the surface complements the head’s disturbing lack of symmetry and distortion, giving the composition a sense of putrefaction.
-Benjamin Quinn (Class of 2017), University of Massachusetts Amherst
A Very Long Engagement: Nineteenth-Century Sculpture and Its Afterlives (July 29, 2017 - May 27, 2018)