Big City Tales

Take Time to Think and Ponder at Musee Rodin

September 27, 2018
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As the father of modern sculpture, Auguste Rodin was known for his incredible ability to convey a range of complex human emotions in his stunning works. Be they made of bronze, clay, marble or plaster, Rodin applied a deft touch of hand and showed his in depth understanding of the human psyche in pieces such as The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell, to name just a few of his masterpieces on display at Musée Rodin in Paris, France.

From Mythology to Realism

While Rodin was trained in traditional sculpting techniques and had a healthy respect for works demonstrating high quality craftsmanship, where he differed from his contemporaries was in his fervent desire to create works that were not strictly based on myths and allegories. In Rodin’s view, figurative sculpting was too limiting and his preference was to portray the human form in a realistic manner and showcase both physical and emotional aspects that weren’t always “beautiful to behold” in the eyes of his early critics.

From Criticism to Acceptance

Even though Rodin’s unconventional style was not immediately well-received in the arts community, he remained committed to his new vision of sculpting and set about producing a prolific amount of pieces. Good things come to those wait and Rodin eventually found favor with those who had previously offered only harsh critiques. By the turn of the 20th century, Rodin was now being exalted in his native France and, thanks to his World’s Fair exhibit in Paris, his unique aesthetic was now much admired resulting in demand for his services around the globe.

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From Original Clay Models to Finished Works

Rodin’s approach to sculpting began with a mound of clay that he would quickly manipulate with his fingers to obtain an initial form and then set aside. He would tinker with the clay model until he was satisfied with its form and texture and then his assistants would create larger clay versions that would be cast in plaster, cast in bronze, or carved in marble and Rodin would apply the finishing touches. Rodin was known for requesting multiple plasters and using them as raw material for new pieces, such as The Cathedral, which he created by intertwining the right hands made from two different figures. He also had no qualms about pulling individual sculptures from a group of reliefs and turning them into stand-alone pieces such as he did with The Kiss, which was originally part of The Gates of Hell, a monumental work containing some 180 figures.

From Radical Rebel to Genuine Genius

Interestingly, in the later stages of Rodin’s career, many of his “finished” works were in fact “fragments” reused from earlier statues. While many perceived them to be incomplete, such as The Walking Man that shows a partial figure (torso and legs only) in a dynamic pose, Rodin insisted they were as he intended. This new abstract way of sculpting would inspire legions of his students in his workshop and fellow artists who admired his vision.

At the time of Rodin’s death in 1917 he had completed an extraordinary number of sculptures and had rightly earned the right to be called the greatest artist of the modern era. Sheer volume of work notwithstanding, there is no denying that he pushed the boundaries of his craft and left the world with much to look at and consider.

The Musée Rodin is one of the artist’s enduring legacies and contains the largest collection of his sculptures and other paper works. Whether wandering the grounds or exploring the interior galleries, take time to think and ponder as you admire and appreciate Rodin’s immense talent.

 

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Kicking It Up in Kansas City

March 22, 2018
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If you’re a fan of the National Football League and the glorious spectacle that is game day, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri needs to be on your bucket list. Whether scoring a touchdown or tackling an opponent, fans of the Kansas City Chiefs are known for their uber-boisterous cheering that has set two Guinness Book of World Records for loudest stadium noise. But kicking it up in Kansas City (KC for short) is not just confined to the football field; the city offers a host of other unique aspects, and interesting activities and venues to get excited about. As the locals know, the ‘Paris of the Plains’ is an urban-chic metropolis begging to be explored.

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City of Fountains

The obsession with water fountains in KC dates back to the late 1800s when a man named George Kessler, a landscape architect and urban planner, was inspired by the City Beautiful Movement to design a fountain to be situated along The Paseo parkway that runs through the city center. Kessler’s fountain would be the first of many to be installed around the city. Today, there are 49 ornamental fountains that are maintained by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department with the support of the City of Fountains Foundation that is dedicated to the preservation of these historical treasures.

Located at 47 Street and Main, the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is the city’s most well-known fountain. It was sculpted by Henri Greber, a French artist, and features four equestrian figures.

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Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

KC is one of 28 cities around the world fortunate to have a cast of The Thinker, Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture, on permanent public display. The cast sits on the south side of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art overlooking the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. The sculpture park is noted for its collection of Henry Moore bronze monuments, and the Shuttlecocks display that features four over-sized badminton birdies scattered around the back lawn.

In addition to its eclectic exterior sculptures, the museum is home to the Hallmark Photographic Collection, as well as an extensive number of European and American paintings and Asian art pieces.

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Kauffmann Center for the Performing Arts

Aside from its eye-catching exterior design, the Kauffmann Center for the Performing Arts is heralded for its interior technical innovations that have revolutionized the way artistic companies deliver their programs and how patrons experience live music, opera, theater, and dance.

Located downtown, the center is home to the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Each of the building’s shells contain performance halls that feature a glass roof and glass walls. In the main foyer, the Brandmeyer Great Hall provides a panoramic view of the city.

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National World War I Museum and Memorial

As America’s official museum dedicated to World War I, the National World War I Museum and Memorial opened in 1926 and tells the story of events leading up to the conflict’s beginning in 1914 through to the Armistice in 1918 and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

The central Liberty Tower is constructed of limestone and stands 217-feet tall. The top of the tower emits light at night that looks like a burning flame and can be seen from far away.

Another notable feature of the museum is the glass bridge that visitors cross to enter the main exhibit space. Underneath the bridge is a field of 9,000 red poppies, each poppy representing 1,000 lives lost in combat.

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Do It All in KC

With its many sports offerings and exuberant fans, its picturesque and peaceful fountains, its lively arts and culture communities, and its well-preserved civic, state and national history monuments there really is a lot to see and do in KC.