The Art of Expression: An Analysis of Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss and The Thinker

1. Introduction

Artists have different ways of expressing their ideas. Some use paintings while others use sculptures to show the world what they are thinking. In this way, Auguste Rodin is an artist who used sculpture to show his ideas. He is a French artist who was born in 1840 and died in 1917 («Rodin, Auguste»). He is considered as the father of modern sculpture. The Kiss and The Thinker are two of his famous sculptures which express his point of view of the world by fusing reality and idea. These two sculptures will be analyzed in this essay by looking at the story behind each sculpture and how it was made.

2. The Kiss
a. The sculpture

The Kiss is a sculpture that was created by Auguste Rodin in 1882. It is made out of bronze and shows a couple kissing each other (Figure 1). The woman’s body is facing the man while her arms are around his neck. The man’s body is leaning towards the woman and his left hand is placed on her waist. Both of them have their eyes closed while they are kissing each other passionately.

b. The story behind the sculpture
The story behind this sculpture is based on a medieval love story from the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri’s book, La Vita Nuova. In this book, Dante tells the story of his love for Beatrice Portinari. He first saw her when he was nine years old and he fell in love with her instantly («The Kiss by Auguste Rodin»). Dante wrote many poems about Beatrice but she got married to another man named Simone de Bardi when she was eighteen years old. Even though she was married, Dante still loved her deeply and he wrote a poem called «Amor e Piacere» which means «Love and Pleasure», expressing his high feeling towards her («Dante Gabriel Rossetti Translates Dante Alighieri’s Vita Nuova into English»). Rodin heard about this love story and he was inspired to create The Kiss which shows the deep love between a man and a woman. He wanted to express how love can be so powerful that it can go beyond death.

3. The Thinker
a. The sculpture

The Thinker is a sculpture that was created by Auguste Rodin in 1880 (Figure 2). It shows a nude man sitting on a rock with his elbows resting on his knees and his chin resting on his fist. He looks like he is lost in thought and he has a serious expression on his face. The man looks very strong and powerful with muscles all over his body. This sculpture was originally meant to be part of Rodin’s work called «The Gates of Hell» but it became so popular that it became its own work («The Thinker by Auguste Rodin»).

b. The story behind the sculpture
The story behind The Thinker is based on the medieval poet, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy where Dante goes through different levels of Hell («Dante Gabriel Rossetti Translates Dante Alighieri’s Vita Nuova into English»). At the gate of Hell, there is a character named Ugolino who is chewing on the head of Ruggieri, the man who imprisoned him («The Thinker by Auguste Rodin»). Rodin was inspired by this story and he wanted to show the mental effort that Ugolino was making as he was chewing on Ruggieri’s head. That is why The Thinker has a serious expression on his face because he is deep in thought.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, Rodin expresses his ideas in The Kiss and The Thinker by fusing reality and his personal view of the world. The Kiss shows the deep love between a man and a woman while The Thinker shows the mental effort that someone makes when they are deep in thought. These two sculptures are different but they both express Rodin’s point of view of the world.

FAQ

Rodin was inspired by the story of Paolo and Francesca from Dante's Inferno. He wanted to capture the moment when they realized they were doomed to spend eternity in hell for their forbidden love.

The Kiss is a more passionate and intimate sculpture, while The Thinker is meant to be a more introspective and universal figure.

For reality and idea to fuse together means that they become one and the same thing- there is no distinction between them anymore.

In The Kiss, we see this fusion happening in the way that the two figures are completely absorbed in each other, with no awareness of anything else around them. In The Thinker, we see it happening in the way that the figure is lost in thought, completely focused on his own inner world.