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Embrace ‘The Kiss’ at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

After being closed during the month of January, Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum has reopened with a new installation with a stirring theme of passionate embrace.
This year, several major North American art museums are celebrating the centennial of ground-breaking French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s death with traveling exhibitions, permanent collection installations and a educational activities. The Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway has assembled marbles, bronzes, plasters and terra-cottas made by Rodin over a 30-year period.
The reinstallation includes works such as “Eternal Springtime,” “Youth Triumphant,” “The Minotaur,” “I am Beautiful,” and is centered on Philadelphia’s copy of “The Kiss.” The marble embracing nude couple weighs 5,500 pounds, is six feet tall, and strangely, was originally conceived as an element for Rodin’s epic work “The Gates of Hell.” The Musée Rodin in Paris granted Rodin Museum founder Jules Mastbaum permission to have the posthumous replica carved in 1926. Mastbaum called “The Kiss” “perhaps the finest group in marble by Rodin.” The Philadelphia Rodin collection also contains a bronze cast of the work.

A view of the copy of Rodin’s “The Kiss,” carved in 1929 by Henri Grèber.
Courtesy photo

Tell me more about this new sculpture grouping.
It’s supposed to demonstrate the variety of approaches, meanings and allusions that Rodin brought to his intimate and intense figure groupings.
Did Rodin use models for “The Kiss?”
Like many of Rodin’s most-admired works, this sculpture is a compilation of separately-conceived elements. The female nude was made in 1882 as an independent work, and two years later the artist combined it with the male nude figure. At that time the artist was frequently sketching live models as they moved around him. In 1885 Rodin gave a plaster version of “The Kiss” to the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, inscribing it, at bottom: “to the sympathetic Artist, to the great and dear poet.”
Isn’t the Rodin Museum the place with the statue “The Thinker?”
Yes. It’s at 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. While “The Thinker” and one of the first bronze casts of “The Gates of Hell” have stood in the same locations since the museum opened in 1929, recent advances in conservation undertaken by the Philadelphia Museum of Art have permitted the return of “Adam” and “The Shade” to within the arches of the Meudon Gate for the first time since 1963. “The Age of Bronze” and “Eve” have also returned to either side of the museum portico, overlooking the reflecting pool. On the building’s west side, there’s a version of “The Three Shades.”
What are the hours and admission rates?
It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays, closed on the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission is $10, $8 for seniors 65+, $7 for students and youths 13-18, free to Philadelphia Museum of Art members, $20 for a two-day ticket.
Enjoy complimentary shuttle service between the Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art every Saturday and Sunday. The shuttle departs from the West Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s main building at 45 minutes after the hour, and from the Rodin Museum at 50 minutes after the hour.
For more information, contact visitor services at (215) 763-8100 or visitorservices@philamuseum.org. Also visit www.rodinmuseum.org.

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