In Man with the Broken Nose Rodin aimed at capturing the specific traits of an elderly worker from Paris named Bibi, while at the same time showing human features that transcend the individual. “This mask,” Rodin declared in 1889, “determined all my future work. . . . I have never succeeded in making a figure as good as the Broken Nose.”
When Rodin was working on the plaster model, it froze in winter and the back of the head cracked off. Nevertheless, the artist decided to submit the remaining “mask” to the Salon of 1865, where it was rejected. He created numerous versions of the head in the following years, and they enjoyed great success.
The play of light and shadow on the uneven surface breathes life into Rodin’s sculptures. It seems almost as if the artist’s hands were still there, kneading and modeling the material. This quality gives them a strong physical and psychological presence.
male; heads; portraits
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