Barnes Foundation Celebrates Auguste Rodin’s Centenary With Major Exhibition

Nearly 100 works explore the relationship of Rodin to contemporary German artist Anselm Kiefer....

Dr. Albert C. Barnes made it his life-long practice to not only collect art, but to also shape his collection in such a way as to ensure that pieces from across cultures and time periods might create new conversations around art.

Now, 95 years after the founding of the Barnes Foundation, curators like Sylvie Patry are working to continue that legacy with a new exhibition — running now through March 12 — centered around two artists: German contemporary Anselm Kiefer and French master sculptor Auguste Rodin.


  • Kiefer Rodin features nearly 100 works organized in collaboration with the Musée Rodin in Paris.
  • The exhibition runs from now through March 12.
  • The Barnes is the only U.S. venue for this major exhibition.
  • The show marks the centennial of the death of Auguste Rodin and the five-year anniversary of the Barnes Foundation’s move to the Parkway.

Separated by 100 years in time, Rodin and Kiefer still cover common ground in their work. Both wrest beauty from decay and feeling from stone, all while confronting the complex historical and societal motivations of their times.

(Les Cathédrales de France, (Auguste Rodin : The Cathedrals of France), 2016. 380 x 380 cm. Oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac and lead on canvas (huile, acrylique, émulsion, shellac et plomb sur toile). Copyright Anselm Kiefer. )
Kiefer Rodin explores the common ground between German contemporary Anselm Kiefer and French master sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Exhibition Overview

Kiefer Rodin celebrates the 100-year anniversary of August Rodin’s death, as well as the five-year anniversary of the Barnes Foundation’s move to its now-prominent spot on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Situated next to the Rodin Museum, the Barnes is a prime stop for Rodin aficionados this year. Featuring pieces on loan from the Musée Rodin, the exhibition introduces visitors who are more familiar with Rodin’s piercing sculptural forms to a whole new side of the artist’s work.

Kiefer’s pieces are completely new, created in response to a visit to the Musée Rodin in 2013. Blown away by the hidden world of Rodin’s artistic process, Kiefer’s works are reinterpretations of and responses to Rodin’s works, with a few even incorporating spare parts made by the master himself.

Exhibition Highlights

Take your time with this one. You’ll be ushered into a whole new world of Rodin works previously unexplored by U.S. patrons.

The first stage of the exhibition is a bit like entering the birth of a dream, as a space dedicated to Rodin’s sketches and plaster casts introduces museum-goers to the intensive reality behind his final sculptures.

An assemblage of spare body parts awaits only the touch of a master artist to be shaped and re-shaped into the beginnings of explorations of the human form.

Kiefer Rodin at the Barnes Foundation
(Auguste Rodin, Reclining Woman, undated. Terracotta and granite. 7 1/2 × 13 3/8 × 7 3/16 in. © Musée Rodin (photo by Jerome Manoukian).)
The first section of the Kiefer Rodin exhibit displays some of Auguste Rodin’s final sculptures.

Watercolors and sketches of Rodin’s interpretations of the female figure sit like gentle caresses on paper.

Travel notes and drawings document his awe-struck love of Gothic architecture, the forms of which inspired his molding of the human body into grotesquely powerful and passionately arching shapes.

This inspiration is evident in Torso of Adèle, where bodies emerge and disappear into the beginnings of a column.

You’ll end the visit in a section devoted to the pieces Anselm Kiefer created in response to Rodin’s unique blending of architecture and anatomy. Of note are the illustrated books maded in homage to Rodin’s only written work, Cathedrals of France.

A final suggestion: Linger longest over the large-scale paintings. The series, Auguste Rodin: The Cathedrals of France, hearkens back to other works by Kiefer in their earthy blending of obscured vision and harsh reality. But they give new life to the cathedral towers of Rodin, stretching above the audience in an attempt to reach the sky.

Programs and Events

The Kiefer Rodin opening party goes down on November 17 from 6-9 p.m., offering you the your to be among the first to see the show during an after-hours exploration featuring fall-flavored drinks and snacks.

Then on Thursday, November 30, join curator Jennifer Thompson and art history professor Linda Kim for a talk on Rodin’s impact both on his own time and on our own.

You can dive further into Kiefer’s background with a documentary film screening on December 11. The film takes you behind-the-scenes into the artist’s studio in the south of France.

Kiefer Rodin at the Barnes Foundation

When:Through March 12, 2018
Where:Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost:$30, adults; $28, seniors; $5, youth and students; free, 12 and under



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