11/12/2013 08:17 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Auguste Rodin Would Turn 173 Years Old If He Were Alive Today

In honor of Auguste Rodin's birthday, we are revisiting a post originally published last year.

Auguste Rodin, the progenitor of modern sculpture and the man behind the iconic and ever-pensive "The Thinker," would be 173 if he were still magically alive today.


Rodin was born into a working class family in Paris, and began drawing and painting at 14 years old. He studied under painter Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who emphasized the importance of drawing from memory and interpreting images in a personal style, skills which would later prove invaluable to the sculptor's unique style. In the early days of Rodin's career he travelled to Italy, where he was inspired by Michelangelo's sensual portrayal of bodies .

While sculptural tradition favored classical forms and decorative mass-appeal, Rodin's bodies expressed raw emotion, fleshy texture and the inner ugliness of humanity. Describing one of his most famed works, "The Thinker," Rodin said: "What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes."

Rodin's modern processes were revolutionary for the time, seemingly belonging to contemporary art as we know it now, rather than the 19th century France he occupied. In his studio, naked women would move freely, sometimes engaging in sexual acts, while Rodin would quickly sketch with clay, paving the way for Studio 54 and countless other debaucherous art world haunts. After creating a clay model, Rodin enlisted assistants to translate the compositions into plaster or bronze large-scale works, opening the door for assistant-hungry artists like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and others. Rodin's erotic renderings also spurred numerous affairs, including a tumultuous relationship with his muse and lover, the legendary sculptress Camille Claudel.

Dear Rodin, on your birthday we celebrate your fascination with raw emotion and all things NSFW. Check out images from Regarding Rodin, a past exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, below.



'Regarding Rodin'