Exploring Rodin’s Place in Literary History

(New York Times) — If “The Hero (Man and His Genius)” ranks among Rodin’s lesser-known works, it owns a place in 20th-century literary history. The bronze figure sat on the desk of the Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal for two decades and was sold with the help of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who played a central role in Rodin’s popularization in the German-speaking world. From Nov. 17 to March 18, the 18-inch-tall sculpture will be the centerpiece of the exhibit “Rodin-Rilke-Hofmannsthal; Man and His Genius” at the Alte Nationalgalerie here.

A small collection of sculptures, graphic art and manuscripts will address the theme of inspiration not only among artists and literary figures, but also within the oeuvre of Rodin, who will have died a century ago on opening day. The exhibit combines Rodin figures from the museum’s permanent collection with objects on loan from the Musée Rodin in Paris and the Künsthalle Bremen, while also including lithographs by the artists Max Klinger and Eugène Carrière from the Print Gallery of the Berlin State Museum.

Ralph Gleis, the exhibit’s co-curator and director of the Alte Nationalgalerie since May, said he was excited to explore the fruitful relationship between Rodin and his contemporaries as well as inspiration as subject matter. “It is a kind of self-portrayal,” he said. “The artist is trying to grasp an ephemeral moment that is decisive for him.” […]