Rodin created Walking Man – “in my opinion,” he later declared, “one of my best things” –around 1899 by combining a torso and a pair of legs that he had modeled two decades earlier in connection with his statue of Saint John the Baptist. 


    Rodin had re-discovered the clay torso, by then cracked and fissured like an ancient statue, in his studio in 1887 and had cast it in bronze as an autonomous sculpture, powerfully expressive in its fragmentary form. 


    Now, he mounted the torso atop the forked legs, the juncture of the two pieces representing the very fulcrum of the body in motion. Stripping away all anecdote and rhetoric, Rodin achieved an expression of pure movement–the powerful forward stride of a seeker, a striver, a prophet, a visionary.

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    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)
    Homme qui marche sur colonne
    Walking Man on a Column
    11 feet 7 3/8 x 23 5/8 x 15 3/8 inches 
    (354 x 60 x 39 cm)
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    Rodin first exhibited L’homme qui marche on a six and half feet column at his 1900 retrospective at the Pavillon de l’Alma, and he selected the figure for prominent display at a banquet held in 1903 when he was awarded the Légion d’Honneur.

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    Matisse’s Serf, Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Giacometti’s Homme qui marche, and many of the 20th century’s pioneering sculptural experiments would be unthinkable without the powerfully modern precedent of Rodin’s great striding figure.

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    Rodin drew energy and inspiration from the art of Classical antiquity, and he absorbed and assimilated the models of ancient Greek and Roman art in his own work in innovative ways.



    He amassed a collection of over 6,000 antiquities including many fragments of marble sculpture, which he regarded as complete objects in themselves. 


    In 1900 he built a studio and a private museum at Meudon (just outside of Paris) in order to accommodate his sprawling practice and to house his growing collection of antiquities. At night, by lamplight, he would show visitors the subtle modeling of the carved marble. 


    In his own work, he introduced the idea of the headless, limbless torso as an object of art in its own right, much influencing his contemporaries.

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    Rodin's collection of antiquities at Meudon. © Musée Rodin. Photo: Jean de Calan.

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    Working plasters in Rodin's studio at Meudon.

    Walking Man on a Column is partly visible behind the Kiss.

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    Rodin kept a number of fragments of works standing around his studio on the top of classical columns, and such an arrangement may have inspired Walking Man on a Column.

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    Despite the walking figure's rather contained proportions, the impression here is of a full-size figure taken to an architectural scale. Such subversion of perception anticipates the impact of Alberto Giacometti’s manipulation of scale and space.

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