= The Crawford Arts Review: Until Sunday 29 July

Friday, 15 June 2018

Until Sunday 29 July

Rodin and the art of ancient Greece
The best exhibition of sculpture I have ever seen
First, allow this new building to work upon you.*  The minimalist aesthetic of the anteroom is there precisely to allow your mind to declutter and let go.

Then enter the great room. Stand near the entrance (not blocking the entrance obviously). Pause. Still your phone perhaps. And you might like to take advantage of the long bench running to your left and sit down.  

Your eyes may never see a greater piece of dramatic sculptural art than this: Rodin's 1st millennium AD genius partnered with that of Pheidias, in the 1st millennium BC. It's certainly the best exhibition of sculpture I have ever seen.

It's a feast of a display of the riches man has hewn from the earth and shaped. Ahead, the work of Pheidias, his two reclining goddesses carved from Attic marble. On the southern wall, a light sculpture projected floor to ceiling, of the work commissioned from Rodin for some never-built art museum, The Gates of Hell.

In the middle ground, Rodin's intertwined human pair in the pristine white plaster cast made from his clay model, The Kiss. In front of that, his delightful 'Parthenon rising from the head of Athena' (Pallas (Athena)) (the goddess to whom the Athenians dedicated their Parthenon built atop Acropolis Hill). 

Far left, take in the lifesize, dramatically lit metal of The Age of Bronze. And, in the middle distance, rising out of the black granitic floor like some splendidly erratic chunk of golden rock, The Thinker, positioned with his back towards us. It's an amazingly clever piece of museum sleight of hand by the curators and their lighting team. For it references the raw power of the golden-hued sunlit marble quarried from Mount Pentelikon and carved so eloquently some 2500 years ago, 

British Museum** take a bow. 

Figure [. . .] of a goddess from the east pediment of the Parthenon, c. 438–432 BC. Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), The Walking Man, 1907. Bronze, sand cast by Alexis Rudier in 1913. S. 998. © Musée Rodin.

Illustration with grateful thanks and acknowledgement to the British Museum Blog 

*   The Sainsbury Exhibition Gallery, a new column-free exhibition space by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners. 

**  In the persons of Ian Jenkins, Chief Curator, Greece and Rome and Celeste Farge, Project Curator, Greece and Rome.

(Members free)   

British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1

Gallery opening times
Open daily 10.00–17.30
most galleries are open until 20.30 on Fridays
Closing starts from 17.20 (20.20 on Fridays)

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