[2013] Reid Merritt (The Word: 2015-2016): Auguste Rodin: The Gate of Hell

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[2013] Reid Merritt (The Word:  2015-2016): Auguste Rodin: The Gate of Hell

Rodin: The Gates of Hell

Rodin's "The Gates of Hell" was not only one of his largest works, but it was also the most intricate. This piece stands over 20 feet tall, and contains nearly 200 figures. Most of said figures are made in great detail, and are depicted as dead or suffering. While the ideas of Dante's Inferno are incorporated, as well as his own work "The Thinker", theorists believe that "The Gates of Hell" contains many problems of the mind. Many of said problems include doubt, self-pity, despair, greed, as well as envy. Rodin was commisioned to make this door in 1880, and 37 years later (on the day of his death) it still wasn't finished. It is believed (though it wasn't complete) Rodin was deeply satisfied with his work. It signifies his triumphs over struggles through his later years, using the same intricate methods that he began with.

Auguste Rodin is considered one of the greatest sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries. Rodin was born on November 12th, 1840 in Paris. In his early life, he attended an art and mathematics school in Paris. There, he studied painting and drawing, and developed an interest in sculpture. Over the next 20 years, he did small works, and assisted major architects. In 1864, he began his life-long on and off relationship with Rose Beuret. Rose gave birth to Rodin's child in 1866, and soon after Rodin began exhibiting his works. Rodin spent the next six years traveling, (going to places such as Italy to view Michealangelo) and began working on his most controvercial piece "The Age of Bronze". Rodin's sculpture was so true to life, people believed that he cast over real people. This awe, as well as controversy brought on a slew of comissions for him. In the early 1880's he produced some of his most famous works, such as "The KIss", "The Thinker" and began on "The Gates of Hell". By the later 1890's and 1900's, Rodin's only income was through sculpture, and he had amassed wealth. He broadened his horizins by branching out to American, and British collecters in the early 1910's, and began to slow down. In 1917, he married his 53 year partner Rose Beuret. Beuret died two weeks later, and Rodin died of the flu in November of 1917. Rodin left the wrold with (what is thought to be) over 20,000 sculptures. After his death, his work became highly collectable, and others became priceless. Rodin left a large mark on the methodology of modern sculpture.

Towards the top of the gates, "The Thinker" sits in thought among the other less famous figures. The larger scale version of "The Thinker" was sculpted in 1880 by Rodin, and is considered by many the most well-known sculpture of the modern era. "The Thinker" represents one's hesitance of creativity, and concern for the future. If that assessment of the work is what Rodin was going for, it isn't surprising that he put "The Thinker" in this piece.

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Khan Academy: The Gates of Hell


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Source 3

Piper, David . The Illustrated History of Art. 5th. Londo: Bounty Books, 2004. 356-357. print.

Example of great detail on The Gates of Hell


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