Medium of Art & Artistic Technique
Faunesse Debout (Standing Fauness), Auguste Rodin, Bronze, Cast early 20th century
Auguste Rodin was something of a revolutionary in his time. The style of his bronze cast works was bold to say the least; many were taken aback by the unrelenting emotion displayed in his most famous works. Take for example the passion of The Kiss or the sense of contemplation inherent in The Thinker. In the case of the Faunesse Debout casting in the Harn collection, it is fair to say that an in person analysis is due to appreciate Rodin’s technique. Honestly, based on a study of Rodin’s technique, there is nothing particularly abnormal about this work. Rodin was a sculptor and bronze casting was among his favorite mediums. Furthermore, the generally realistic depiction of the human for (excepting for some distortions of proportion) is standard Rodin. But it is worth noting that from the perspective of someone unaware of Rodin’s work, the fact that he decides to depict this woman fairly realistically in bronze can help situate Rodin’s work in a historical context, thus giving us potential information on Rodin’s motivations, philosophies and thoughts. To any observer of Rodin though, seeing the true and solid form of his sculptures gives them a breath of life. A picture is worth a thousand words, but The Kiss need not utter one. I therefore suggest that the manner of depiction (as sculpture and semi-realistic) is best understood and contemplated in person. For what it is worth, should you find yourself in Philadelphia and in the mood for some world-class sculpture viewing, I highly recommend to Rodin museum there: it is true a sight to behold. Back to the Faunesse Debout, my personal interpretation of it is relatively simple. I suspect that this work was either a study of form or made specifically for cheap reproduction (evidenced by the 1884 model being cast in the early 20th century). So, Faunesse Debout, show a semi-realistic woman standing in a position with her arms in such a placement as to suggest stretching to my eye. Anyway, to wrap this up quickly so as not to bore you further with somewhat petty details, the naturalism of the woman suggests to me that Rodin is trying to communicate a sense of reality grounded in human beings. Whether sublime or profane reality is impossible to tell, but human endowed purpose is apparent to me.
Faunesse Debout from another angle
Design of Museum
Picture of the Asian Art Wing Garden
Many Asian artistic traditions have customs of directly incorporating nature and art into one form. What appeals to me about the Asian Art Wing Garden in particular is its use of varied plants and flowing water. I was born and raised in Florida, just minutes from Tampa Bay and not far from the Gulf of Mexico. Because of this, I have developed a certain aesthetic passion for water. Drawing on Siddhartha, water in many Asian cultures (and Western cultures for that matter) is symbolic of the passage of time and the wholeness of existence in the face of said passage of time. This is all not to mention the aural sensation of trickling water, adding to an ambiance of serenity. The sound, symbolism and personal appreciation of water in this exhibit all contribute to a tranquil garden experience. This exhibit allows me to escape from day to day worries and concentrate. Simply put, I feel very comfortable in this space.
Me in the Asian Art Wing Garden
Art and Core Values
Me in front of a statue of Ganesh
Hindu tradition holds that all that exists is of one unified spirit and existence. So, as Siddhartha saw in himself the incarnation of Krishna, so too is it conceivable, and in fact considered reality, to consider attributes and aspects of various Hindu deities as partially within one’s possession. It is interesting to me to consider how the idea of social values can stem from this concept. Regarding the Harn’s statue of Ganesh, I idealistically imagine the essence of this auspicious god residing in people. Ganesh is the Hindu god of success and offerings to him are meant to help remove obstacles, physical and otherwise, from a devotee’s life. Additionally, he is considered to be a scholar. Focusing on the core values of personal growth and scholarship, even though I am not Hindi, I genuinely appreciate the portrayal of Ganesh as a helper in the advancement of people. Artistically, Ganesh is represented riding a rat or shrew, often considered to stand for greed. Furthermore his four arms suggest that he is a multi-tasker. His fat belly is a result of Ganesh’s love for an Indian sweet called modak; there is an annual festival (modakapriya) that commemorates this, thereby winning favor with Ganesh. So, the real meaning behind Ganesh, as discussed above, lies in the context with which his mythology. When combined, the mythology and artistic representation are powerful tools. Ultimately, I am always happy to see a representation of Ganesh and I feel that I better understand the struggles of personal growth and academic learning because of my exposure to Hindu mythology, which is most poignant when combined with visual representations such as the Harn’s large Ganesh statue.
Art and the Good Life
Me, in front of Rafael Tufiño's Coffee Portfolio, plate 3
When life is good, celebrate! A “gateway” topic was dedicated to celebration in this course. That week focused on Heschel’s defense of the Sabbath and Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Interestingly, the piece I have chosen illustrates topics relevant to both of these “pillars.” Plate 3 of Rafael Tufiño’s Coffee Portfolio depicts a party of some sort. People seem to dance and sing to the rhythm of two guitar players at the center of attention. Alone, the scene is joyous and merits appreciation. But digging deeper reveals that the most important figure is not one of the guitar players, but rather a woman and her child situated just behind the left-most guitar player. Notice that the work in question is part of a portfolio, or combined set of works. Currently, the Harn is displaying plates 2, 3 (my main focus), 6 and 7. Plates 2, 6 and 7 give the portfolio its name—the aforementioned woman is a worker in local coffee fields and is shown struggling through hard work sewing, picking and grinding coffee. For her and her child, the party in plate 3 is a celebration of hard earned success in life. In conclusion, my understanding of celebration has been expanded by this artwork. Celebration does not imply ease, but it does grant individuals respite and a sense of community support. Perhaps that is all we really need to experience the good life.
Detail of plate 3; notice the half-smiling woman behind the guitar player.
Plate 7, Rafael Tufiño's Coffee Portfolio
Plate 6, Rafael Tufiño's Coffee Portfolio