Comparison: Aguste Rodin and Henry Moore

Essay by alibongo February 2004

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During the second half of the 19th century France was home to many influential artists of the time. Along with the numerous impressionist painters such as Monet and Degas Aguste Rodin was establishing himself as one of the foremost sculptors of the time.

Rodin's sculpture combined both the realistic and romantic tendencies present in French society at the time. In his work he aimed to capture and represent inner feeling and the subsequent state of mind.

The piece which I have chosen is entitled 'Despair' I think that Rodin has captured the true sense of this emotion simply through how he has depicted the human form. The simplicity of the head bowed down and the leg outstretched but also being restricted by the clenched hands. This suggests an inward struggle which is consuming the figure totally.

Rodin was a believer in the power of art. He believed that art was on par with religion and that through art you could say all that could be said about the relationship between man and the world.

His subject as in all his work is the human form. His style tends to vary between either a deliberate roughness of form to a very polished and delicate approach of modelling the body.

In comparison I have chosen to look at a piece by the semi-abstract sculptor Henry Moore. He is considered by some to be the foremost influential British sculptor of the twentieth century. Moore, like Rodin, uses the human figure as the basis for much of his work. The particular piece I have chosen is entitled Reclining figure: single leg (1976).

The basic visual differences between the two sculptures are obvious:Rodin's classical style and detailed, proportioned account of the figure is very different to Moore's simplified abstract version.