This seventh exhibition in the series Twentieth Century American Sculpture at the White House is subtitled Inspired by Rodin. The French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917) created highly original figure studies that have inspired generations of American artists. The twelve works on view in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, selected from public collections in the Northeast, are indebted to Rodins ability to capture the moods and manners of the human body.
While Rodin worked in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his importance was quickly understood in the United States. Numerous American artists, such as Malvina Hoffman, Andrew OConnor, and William Zorach, responded to his creative energies. More recently, contemporary artists whose work focuses on the body, including Louise Bourgeois, Willem de Kooning, and George Segal, can credit the power of Rodins imagination in their own work. With the profound ability to fuse the division between figuration and abstraction, Rodin has engaged those who employ either style. Non-representational artists who evoke the figure, like Stephen De Staebler, Bryan Hunt, and Isamu Noguchi, have found in Rodin a guide to diverse aesthetic issues concerning balance, gesture, scale, materials, and public installation.
We hope that visitors to the White House will be moved by this exhibition, for it is the ongoing creative effort of American sculptors to imbue their work with challenges to the viewer, to provoke us to make fresh discoveries.
On behalf of the Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, I wish to express our gratitude to President and Mrs. Clinton for the honor of organizing this exhibition, one in a series conceived by Mrs. Clinton that reflects her own deep commitment to the art of our time. We are grateful as well to Iris Cantor and the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation for their support. Mrs. Cantor and her late husband, Bernie, philanthropists and distinguished friends to many American museums, have bestowed their generosity on all who have the pleasure of visiting this exhibition. Our good friend J. Carter Brown has given us his wise counsel throughout the planning of this project, for which we are most appreciative.
Since 1994, my colleague museum directors Peter C. Marzio, George Neubert, Rusty Powell, Martin Sullivan, Marcia Tucker, and Townsend Wolfe have organized outstanding exhibitions in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden; their contributions have been significant to our present planning. At the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the team of Elizabeth Easton, Linda Ferber, Charlotta Kotik, Ken Moser, and Brooke Kamin Rapaport coordinated the selection and received extraordinary support from the expertise of White House Curator Betty Monkman and her able staff.
We salute the achievement of the artists represented in this White House exhibition. American artists have always been at the forefront of innovation and have been critical to sustaining our nations cultural energy.
Arnold L. Lehman
Brooklyn Museum of Art
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