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Rachel Kneebone, detail of The Descent, 2008
Rachel Kneebone, detail of The Descent, 2008

SCULPTOR RACHEL KNEEBONE TAKES ON RODIN

Dec. 7, 2011

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For her first major museum exhibition, British sculptor Rachel Kneebone is installing eight of her large-scale figurative porcelain works at the Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum alongside 15 Auguste Rodin bronzes from the institution’s collection.

Kneebone frequently references figurative sculpture throughout art history, drawing inspiration from Michelangelo to Louise Bourgeois, but the exhibition “Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin” is the first instance in which she’s made a literal comparison between her work and an Old Master.

The similarities lie in both artists’ interest in the subjects of death, sexuality and gender. And they have both taken cues from Dante’s Divine Comedy, particularly The Inferno -- Rodin with his monumental series The Gates of Hell (1880-1917), and Kneebone with The Descent (2008), the largest work in the exhibition, and her largest to date. The Descent is a smooth 11-and-a-half-foot-wide circular column that holds within it the depths of hell, into which hundreds of bodies plummet and burn.

Kneebone also hopes the exhibition contrasts the differences in the artists’ artistic processes. Kneebone sculpts each work individually, fires it by section in a kiln, and then assembles the pieces into larger, complete works. Rodin, on the other hand, cast his figures. The show goes on view Jan. 27-Aug. 26, 2012.

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