November 1, 2011: Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin, an exhibition featuring new works by the British artist Rachel Kneebone shown alongside iconic works from the nineteenth-century French master Auguste Rodin, will be on view January 27 through August 12, 2012 in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Kneebone’s first major museum presentation, the exhibition will include eight intricately wrought, large-scale porcelain sculptures paired with fifteen Rodin sculptures from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection.
Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin will focus on Kneebone’s and Rodin’s shared interest in the examination of gender and sexuality, the nature of sculptural form, and the formal representation of mourning, ecstasy, death, and vitality in figurative sculpture. This pairing will also offer a visual comparison of their sculptural materials and processes. Kneebone’s porcelain sculptures make reference to the history of sculpture including comparisons to Michelangelo, Gianlorenzo Bernini, and Louise Bourgeois. Her simultaneously pristine and agitated artworks, which integrate human forms that merge into odd mutations, provide a stark contrast to Rodin’s heavy, dark, yet equally animated bronzes. Whereas Rodin cast his sculpture, Kneebone creates unique artworks that she fires in a small kiln in her studio. Her larger sculptures are fired in sections and then assembled later into completed pieces.
This exhibition marks the first time that Kneebone will present her artwork along with one of her significant historical referents. The centerpiece of the exhibition and the largest work that she has created to date, The Descent (2008), was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, as was Rodin’s masterpiece The Gates of Hell (1880–1917). The Descent is a highly theatrical sculpture consisting of hundreds of hybrid figures tumbling into an abyss of teeming with bodies and flesh. Both Kneebone’s and Rodin’s sculptures take thematic inspiration from The Inferno, the first section of the Divine Comedy, and highlight the charged emotion and the tensions that emerge from life wrestling with death and momentary ecstasy mixed with eternal suffering.
Kneebone was born in 1973, in Oxfordshire, England, and graduated in 1997 from University of The West of England, Bristol. In 2004, Kneebone graduated with an M.A. in sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London. She currently lives and works in London.
Born in Paris in 1840, Auguste Rodin is often considered the founder of modern sculpture. The Brooklyn Museum’s collection includes well-known masterpieces such as The Age of Bronze, The Burghers of Calais, The Gates of Hell, and the Monument to Balzac. The Rodin collection was generously gifted to the Brooklyn Museum in 1984 by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.
Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin is organized by Catherine Morris, Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum. The fully illustrated catalogue, Lamentations, published by White Cube gallery in 2010, will accompany the exhibition. This exhibition has been supported by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation.
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