Auguste Rodin is one of the most influential sculptors known to the art world. His work dominated the sculpture milieu at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. By breaking with the static classical tradition, Rodin's work marked the beginning of the modern period.
Rodin was born in Paris in 1840. He joined the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs at the age of fourteen. As a young artist, he was refused from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts three times. He worked as a contractor in masonry and decoration which helped him acquire significant technical skill. His skill was further improved when he worked as an assistant to Carrier-Belleuse at the Sèvres porcelain factory. Despite the constant amelioration of his work, his piece Man with a Broken Nose was rejected from the Paris Salon in 1864.
In 1870, Rodin was called to war, but invalided out of the army. After the war, the artist returned to work with Carrier-Belleuse who entrusted him with several of his important contracts in Brussels. After five years together in Brussels, -Belleuse returned to Paris but Rodin remained in Belgium and established a partnership with Van Rasbourg. Rodin's work decorates several monuments and buildings in Brussels including the Bourse and the Palais des Académies.
In order to further his understanding of sculpture, Rodin traveled to Italy in 1874 to study art and most particularly the work of Michelangelo. After this trip, he felt free to work outside of sculptural conventions. In 1877, Rodin's The Age of Bronze caused controversy at the Paris Salon where several judges accused the artist of molding his figure on a live model. A committee enquiry was set up to explore the matter. Rodin protested the enquiry and was eventually vindicated when the committee acknowledged his indisputable talent.
In 1880, public support for Rodin was increasing and he was commissioned to design the door of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. At this time, the government also provided him with a large art studio in Paris where he created controversial works such as Victor Hugo and Balzac. Rodin reached the height of his fame in 1900 when he held a retrospective exhibit after which the art world recognized his obvious genius.
Rodin broke boundaries by refusing to conform to one artistic framework or to work solely within one artistic school. His influence on the world of sculpture cannot be overstated. He died in 1917.