My meetup group visited the Hirshhorn Museum recently. Outdoors in the sculpture garden I made drawings after Rodin. The Hirshhorn is home to some brilliant works of art, but the pressure on modern museums to try to produce something uncanny is great. Consequently there’s always some head-scratching exhibit dominating the place. Currently at the Hirshhorn it’s not one exhibit, but nearly the entire building that’s dedicated to head-scratching. And there wasn’t much to look at that holds any purely visual interest. Purely — visual — interest — you know, the sort of thing that your eyes just want to linger over because the sensation of looking is so mesmerizing.
It’s strange. I wonder sometimes if the people who have trained themselves in modernity-in-quotes have forgotten how to see? Rodin is right there in the garden. He produced sculptures of great visual beauty that are full of emotion also. They’re even provocative — and are thus so in a genuinely enduring fashion. But the managers of the Hirshhorn’s hapless collection cannot seem to make the connection.
Rodin had more in the way of ideas and imagery than I knew what to do with. But I spent my bit of time gazing at the face of his crouching woman and made my drawing above.