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Centenary events in Paris show great French sculptor Auguste Rodin's secret of immortality

By Rosslyn Hyams

Queues to see the sensual works of sculptor Auguste Rodin at Hôtel Biron in Paris are usually long in any season. This year they are longer as the Rodin Museum is leading the events to commemorate the 100th year of the artist's death.

His creative and for the time, daring, genius brought marble, bronze and less noble materials - plaster and terra-cotta - to life in his sculptures such as the Burgers of Calais, or the hive of characters in the Gates of Hell, a tribute to the Italian writer Dante Alghieri, at the top of which sits one of Rodin's most replicated works, The Thinker.

At the Musée Rodin, a retrospective of his work in the main house shows his work process, his drawings, watercolours, plaster and terracotta as well as objets d'art from his private collection.

In the former chapel in the grounds of the Museum-mansion, German artist, Anselm Keifer exhibits works he created while in residence at the Hôtel Biron, inspired by Rodin's illustrated book of 1914, The Cathedrals of France.

Keifer's work is often monumental, whether in tall glass cases or exposed. Like Rodin, Keifer who was born about a century after Rodin, explores all kinds of materials for their relief and their vibe.

"Keifer-Rodin - Cathédrales" which closes in October 2017 reveals a significant bond between the two important artists.

Véronique Mattiussi, in charge of archives and history at the Musée Rodin says "visitors who meander through the exhibition will be able to see different aspects in Rodin's work."

At the Grand Palais, the "Rodin Centenary Exhibition", places Rodin's works next to artists who worked in his highly productive workshop in the late 19th and early 20th century, and who went on to earn their own international reputations.

The works themselves are arresting for their beauty and because Rodin had a gift for creating the illusion that he infused stone and metal with human feelings.

Their juxtaposition to more recent sculptures in bronze, marble or even wood, shows how Rodin's works transmit his acute sense of emotions, from one artists to another, over the decades.

The Rodin Centenary puts the artist at the centre of exhibitions, and of films with Jacques Doillon's biopic about a period at the end of his relationship with sculptress Camille Claudel, 'Rodin' starring Vincent Lindon, as well as two new documentaries on his work and the social and political period which nourished it.

Coincindentally or not, Claudel's life history and work is also getting a boost this year. The Camille Claudel Museum opened in March 2017 in Nogent-sur-Seine, in the east of France, about 110 kilometres from Paris.

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