Rodin collection inspires visitors
Greatly interested in the works of French artist Auguste Rodin, collector B. Gerald Cantor purchased over 400 pieces of Rodin’s art in his lifetime and donated all his pieces to Stanford University’s Cantor Center for Visual Arts.
Bernard Barryte, Curator of European Art, first began working at the museum 18 years ago and took the job initially because of the great job opportunity.
“I like working at university museums,” Barryte said. “I’m familiar with that type of environment. You’re given a lot more intellectual freedom here, you don’t have to worry about the turnstile as much so you can be as scholarly as you want, so I have lots of advantages.”
The museum contains several galleries devoted to Rodin’s sculptures in bronze, wax, terra cotta, plaster and other materials. While the museum contains other artists work, Rodin’s sculptures are the most widely recognized.
“It’s interesting because this museum is thought of by the public as a place for coming to see Rodin,” Patience Young, museum curator, said “and that’s one part of what the collection is. This collection spans five continents and spans from antiquity into the current day [and] you can come here to see stuff from Africa and Asia and the Americas. So Rodin is only one of the aspects of what we offer.”
Barryte recognized Rodin’s ability to create movement in his sculptures by leaving the sculptures rough, as opposed to a smooth surface like the more polished finish of Michelangelo and other sculptures.
“When I look at the art, I see movement,” he said, “because as I move to different angles, the light shines off of each ridge on the surface and it creates movement. You get the sense that the man’s actually striding.”
Barrate and Young believe Rodin created art to display human emotion, and crated pieces to convey feelings. He often sculpted people in contorted positions or disproportional to incite passion in his viewers.
“The finished product of his Mediator intentionally had no arms,” Young said. “He understood a part of the body could understand a whole person. Sometimes his pieces would have big hands and feet, but it was all on purpose.”
Alumnua Sujata Patel brought her daughter to the sculpture garden to show her daughter the art. “I wanted her to see different kinds of art and how different people express themselves,” she said. “I like the sculpture garden because it has some really interesting pieces and I think it’s something that kids and adults can appreciate.“
The Rodin sculpture garden is located outside the Cantor Center for Visual Arts and is open with free tour guides available. There is also the Cool Café located inside the museum overlooking the garden.
“I like that it’s open to the public,” Patel said. “I like that it’s free, you can come for an hour or half an hour and stay as long as you want and it’s just kind of a neat thing.
The museum is located on Lomita Drive at Museum Way on the Stanford campus. Visitor hours are Wed.-Sun. 11am-5pm, with a late closing on Thurs. at 8pm. For more information, call the office at (650) 623-4177.