Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Rendezvous with Rodin: After Laying the Groundwork 15 Years Ago, a Curator Helps Turn 'A Magnificent Obsession' Into a Reality." by Tom Buckham,

March 16, 2004, Buffalo News, "Rendezvous with Rodin: After Laying the Groundwork 15 Years Ago, a Curator Helps Turn 'A Magnificent Obsession' Into a Reality." by Tom Buckham,

It has been on the Albright-Knox Art Gallery exhibition schedule for three years, but you could say that "Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession," opening April 20, actually set course for Buffalo in 1989.

That is when Kenneth Wayne, now the Albright's curator for modern art, began working on his doctoral dissertation about the great 19th century French sculptor at Stanford University. As a Cantor fellow, he grew close to B. Gerald and Iris Cantor, Stanford benefactors who owned the world's largest private collection of Rodin works -- 750 in all. The Cantor Foundation funded Wayne's research for five years, including a stint at Paris' Musee Rodin, where the young art scholar met his wife, Olivia.

Naturally, when Wayne joined the Albright in 1999, he began lobbying his old California friends for a Rodin exhibition.

"I knew the foundation organized traveling shows, so I said, 'Keep us in mind,' " the curator said Monday in a news conference announcing the Auguste Rodin exhibit and the companion "Bodily Space: New Obsessions in Figurative Sculpture," which will feature works by important contemporary artists.

"At the time, they had one tour that was filled up. Then, in 2001, they said they were starting another and put us first on the list," Wayne said.

"Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession" will exhibit 70 bronze works from the Cantor collection, including such well-known pieces as "The Thinker," "The Kiss," "The Cathedral" and "Monumental Head of Balzac," as well as many others that previously have not been shown publicly.

The sampling will demonstrate why the French artist was considered the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo, the Albright- Knox said.

"He single-handedly transformed the medium, which he thought had become somewhat stale, lifeless and boring," Wayne said. By questioning convention and doing away with rules, "he did for sculpture what Picasso did for painting."

In addition to the master's distinctive sculptures, the exhibition will feature works on paper by Rodin and artists he inspired, plus large-scale documentary photo blowups for background. A special three-dimensional display will explain the 10-step lost wax casting process by which bronze sculptures have been produced for centuries.

Two Rodins from the Albright-Knox collection, "Eve" and "The Age of Bronze," will complete the lineup.

The show's title refers to the Cantors' passion for collecting Rodin works. Their foundation donated more than 450 works to museums and 187 other sculptures to the Stanford University Museum of Art.

Bernard Cantor, founder and chairman of Cantor Fitzgerald securities, died in 1996. Wayne gave a eulogy on behalf of Cantor fellows. Iris Cantor, who lives in Bel Air, Calif., is foundation chairwoman and president.

"Bodily Space: New Obsessions in Figurative Sculpture" will complement "Rodin" by exploring overlapping themes such as the effect of space, context and size on perceptions of the sculptural body, as exemplified by Ron Mueck's comical yet solemn "Untitled (Big Man) 2000." Other contemporary artists who will be represented include Robert Gober, Janine Antonini, Anthony Gormley, Maurizio Cattelan, Tony Oursler, Charles Ray, Peter Sarkisian and Spencer Tunick.

"It's an opportunity to juxtapose a great 19th century master with what's happening today," said Albright-Knox Director Louis Grachos. "What you'll see is the breadth and range of what figurative art has become."

"Rodin," whose principal sponsor is M&T Bank, will remain in Buffalo until July 3, after which it will move to Utica and several Canadian museums before the tour winds up in Vancouver, British Columbia, in September 2005.

Tickets are on sale at the Albright-Knox admissions desk.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

TOM BUCKHAM. "RENDEZVOUS WITH RODIN ; AFTER LAYING THE GROUNDWORK 15 YEARS AGO, A CURATOR; HELPS TURN 'A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION' INTO REALITY." Buffalo News. 2004. HighBeam Research. (October 3, 2010). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-22671994.html

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