“The Thinker”

Auguste Rodin, “The Thinker” (or “The Poet”), 1902. Bronze and marble.

Parodied numerous times – recognizable to pretty much everyone in the modern Western world, “The Thinker” is one of those icons of modern art that will always hold its place on the list of infamous and brilliant creations. Yet the sculpture was not always intended to stand on its own, and while today it is commonly referred to as the icon of philosophy, its original context placed it as the central figure of a monumental sculpture titled “The Gates of Hell,” commissioned for the entrance of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. The Gates could never actually be opened because of the mass of writhing figures in high relief pushing through the bronze. Themed after Dante’s “Divine Comedy” it is theorized that the thinker is Dante himself – though the muscular nude physique suggests otherwise. Either way – the idea of a man contemplating the plight of the damned, or even being so lost in the quest for knowledge that he misses the truth causes one to pause. There is something of us all in Rodin’s sculptural work. (Original post to Instagram November 11, 2012.)


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