Rodin’s Gates of Hell – The Story of a damned artwork

Posted May 7th, 2013 under Documentaries, France, Sculptures, Videos

Gates of hell
Was Auguste Rodin‘s monumental masterpiece “Gates of hell” a failure? This documentary explains why there are two different versions of the same artwork, and why Rodin remained obsessed by the Gates until his death. It shows how the artist used this work to solve major aesthetic issues that faced modern artists at that time.

The monumental sculptural group work by Rodin depicts a scene from “The Inferno”, the first section of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. It stands at 6 metres high, 4 metres wide and 1 metre deep (20×13×3.3 ft) and contains 180 figures.

The sculpture was commissioned by the Directorate of Fine Arts in 1880 and was meant to be delivered in 1885. Rodin would continue to work on and off on this project for 37 years, until his death in 1917.

In an article by Serge Basset printed in Le Martin in 1890, Rodin said: “For a whole year I lived with Dante, with him alone, drawing the circles of his inferno. At the end of this year, I realized that while my drawing rendered my vision of Dante, they had become too remote from reality. So I started all over again, working from nature, with my models.”

The original sculptures were enlarged and became works of art of their own. The most famous one is The Thinker (Le Penseur), also called The Poet.

- Click here for 112 megapixels of The Gates of Hell and more!

- More at the Rodin Museum

- Free Ebook from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Rodin – The B. Gerald Cantor Collection