Inside PMoA’s Rodin Exhibition

By: Christopher Follenus

One of the 19th century’s greatest masters comes to the Polk Museum of Art for a limited time.

Exhibition Stories – Bringing Contemplation and Dreams to Lakeland


Lakeland’s Polk Museum of Art has been bringing some incredible exhibits to Lakeland recently. The recent Highwaymen exhibition drew crowds from far and wide, and Hindsight 2020 captured a moment in time none of us will forget. The trend continues, as the museum’s latest exhibition promises to create even more memorable experiences for visitors. With Rodin: Contemplation and Dreams, the museum brings one of the impressionist era’s greatest artists to Central Florida for a limited time only.

“Auguste Rodin, after Michelangelo, was the greatest known sculptor of all time”, says Dr. Alexander Rich, Chief Curator of the museum. As he points out, after Michelangelo’s ‘David’, perhaps the world’s most famous sculpture is Rodin’s ‘Thinker’. As a result, the free Rodin exhibition has been bringing people from all over the region to see these works by the 19th century French master. One such work, ‘The Gates of Hell’ inspired by Dante’s ‘Inferno’, is a particularly renowned and provoking work.

Rodin Exhibition sculpture of a head with two hands

Auguste Rodin, ‘Head of Shade with Two Hands,’ modeled ca. 1910, Cast 2 of an unknown edition, Bronze, Alexis Rudier Foundry, Lent by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.

Capturing Sheer Emotion and Pathos by Re-Inventing Classical Sculpture

Evident in these 45 bronze works on display, is Rodin’s incredible capacity for capturing human emotion and poignancy. According to Rich, they “exude this idea of pathos and emotion and drama”. “He says “any viewer of his sculptures will be mesmerized by the fact that they look like they could breathe, they look like they could talk…they look like they are living beings”. When you view these works you are seeing more than just famous art, but are truly engaging with the pieces.

Taylor Nobbe, the museum’s manager of communications points out how Rodin re-invented classical Greco-Roman sculptures by using these classical techniques to tell a very modern story. Similar to Rodin’s great painter contemporaries, Rodin’s goal was not to create replicas of real life. Instead he tried to represent feeling, or moments in time. “Nothing had to be refined, nothing had to be perfect”, and through these intentional imperfections in his work she continues, we got “movement, emotion, human empathy and connection”.

Sculpture of a man, Claude Lorraine,at Rodin exhibition

Auguste Rodin, ‘Claude Lorrain,’ modeled 1889, Musée Rodin cast 5 of 8, 1992 , Bronze, Coubertin Foundry, Lent by Iris Cantor.

Experiencing the Rodin Exhibition and the Gallery Concert Series

At the exhibition visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the sculptor’s life and struggles. This rare exhibition for the region takes visitors back to a time of rapid modern change. Late 19th century France, was living through the ‘Belle Epoque’. This was a time of world fairs, bohemians, the Eiffel Tower, the Oriental Express, and the first forays into cinema. It is this time of transition and sense of modernity that is reflected through some of history’s’ greatest works of art. Artists like Rodin, and painters such as Monet, and Cézanne, or music by artists such as Stravinsky and Saints-Saëns all reflect the mindset of the time.

And music will be the focus of a unique evening at the exhibition on September, as the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra performs a selection of musical pieces at the museum. Featuring a selection of classical pieces that are contemporary to Rodin, this is a truly unique and memorable way to experience the art of Rodin and his era. Opening the new season of the museum’s Gallery Concert Series, the concert will be held at two separate times on the evening of Thursday Sep 8th. For more information see our event listing.

The Rodin exhibition runs through October 30th, 2022. The museum is always free. Visit for full details.

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