Brooklyn Museum of Art, USA
From: 27 January 2012
Until: 12 August 2012
Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin
11am until 6pm
Late opening on Thursdays
At first glance, you could easily mistake contemporary sculptor Rachel Kneebone’s work as hailing from ancient Greece. The purity of her glazed white sculptures can’t help but remind us of marble statues such as the Venus de Milo or the Winged Victory of Samothrace that grace the corridors of the Louvre.
Yet on closer inspection it becomes clear that Kneebone’s works do not embody the sort of physical perfection found in classical sculpture but instead erupt with amorphous physical shapes, limbs and tendrils that connect her works with the sort of organic, semi-abstract bodily sculptures created by the likes of Louise Bourgeois in the late 20th century.
Kneebone has also found inspiration in Ovid’s poem ‘Metamorphosis’ in which humans migrate into infinite forms, evident in the way the body-part-forms in her sculptures appear to contort as if frozen, mid transformation.
Born in Oxfordshire in 1973, Kneebone was commissioned by Mario Testino to create a wall sculpture for the Diana Princess of Wales Exhibition at Kensington Palace in 2005. She had her first solo exhibition in London in 2006 at the Madder Rose Gallery (all the works in which were sold on the opening night) and is now represented by Jay Jopling and White Cube.
In her first major museum presentation at the Brooklyn Museum of Art Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin (January 27 until August 12), she selects 15 iconic works by the nineteenth-century sculptor to be shown alongside eight of her own large-scale porcelain sculptures.
The exhibition highlights Kneebone and Rodin’s shared interest in the representation of ecstasy, death and vitality through figurative sculpture. Her mutated forms differ from Rodin’s more realistic presentation of the human body and the stark whiteness of her use of porcelain contrasts with Rodin’s dark bronzes. Yet both of these artist’s sculptures communicate an unrelenting physical energy.
The centrepiece to the show is Kneebone’s 2008 sculpture The Descent, her largest ever work. Like Rodin’s masterpiece The Gates of Hell (on which he worked for 37 years for a building that was never created) The Descent was inspired by images conjured by Dante’s Inferno.