Le Pavillon de l'Alma
To coincide with the Exposition Universelle of 1900, Rodin decided to mount a 'self-organised' retrospective exhibition, in a pavilion specially built for the occasion on the Place de l’Alma
The name ‘Rodin the Alma Project’ derives from this mythical exhibition, a turning point in Rodin’s career, which took place at the Pavillon de l’Alma, a mostly glass structure which Rodin designed and built for the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900. The works on display at the Pavillon de l'Alma greatly contributed to Rodin’s international reputation as the father of modern sculpture.
Among the works exhibited by Rodin in 1900 at the Pavillon de l’Alma were plasters of works that until then had never been cast in bronze. As it turns out, due to their unconventional and often very daring nature, several of these pieces were to remain unpublished long after his passing, and some in fact remain so to this day; these are the famed 'Les Inédits.'
Much as Rodin organised, designed, and curated a retrospective of his own career in 1900, today's artists seek to tightly control the creation, presentation, and dissemination of their work, thus balancing the power between the artist's studio and the dealer's galleries.
Most notable examples are Damien Hirst and the YBA's self-organised Freeze Exhibition at the London Dockworks in July 1988 (above) and Hirst's 2008 “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” one-artist, two-day auction at Sotheby’s: "Damien Hirst’s Next Sensation: Thinking Outside the Dealer.”
A WINDOW INTO THE STUDIO
Like Rodin, several important contemporary artists work in a similar studio environment, authoring the work and employing highly skilled assistants to realise their vision under the artist's close supervision. From Beijing to London, as in Bombay or New York, successful artist studios, like those of Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Liu Wei, Suboth Gupta, Urs Fischer, or Anish Kapoor, follow in the footsteps of Andy Warhol's Factory and, the studio of Auguste Rodin, who in fact designed the Pavillon de l’Alma with the idea of giving the public a glimpse into his creative process.
THE STUDIO AS A WORKSHOP
As noted by the Victoria and Albert Museum in "Auguste Rodin Working Methods":
"Like many other sculptors of the period, Rodin viewed the making of sculpture as a collaborative process. He employed highly trained plaster casters, carvers and founders, as well as studio assistants, to turn his original models into a finished work. As his fame grew, many young sculptors wished to become his pupils. Jules Desbois, Camille Claudel and Pen Browning, son of the poet Robert Browning, worked with Rodin as well as being sculptors in their own right".