Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin

The old jeremiad “he or she didn’t see the writing on the wall,” would not be applicable to the show of Rachel Kneebone’s sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum. You can’t miss it. Kneebone’s porcelain sculpture owes a great deal to Rodin and the curator, Catherine Morris, has gone out of her way  (sometimes so far out of their way that it seems like a stretch) in pointing to the similarities between the two artists work (which are shown side by side in the exhibit space) in her comments on the wall of the museum. Rilke was Rodin’s secretary and some of his lines are also quoted. The fact that Rodin worked in bronze and Kneebone fashions her medium in porcelain is discountenanced along with the obvious difference between Rodin’s simple undulating forms and Kneebone’s highly ornate, almost ornamental style. Referencing Rodin’s quote that “sculpture is the art of the hole the lump,” Morris writes, “These techniques are also characteristic of Kneebone’s work and they invoke metaphorical readings that allude to the hole in the absence of the phallus that defines womankind in Freudian thought and to the big black lump of earth that gave birth to Adam. These multiple points of reference within both artists’ work—from the art of modeling figures to a psychosexual formation of the individual—are the focus of Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin.” A Rodin of the naked Balzac makes a cameo appearance in the show. For good or bad Balzac didn’t write like that.

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