Paris preview #1: The sculptural body

Dancers’ Arms, 1978
Black hands on back, Coney Island, 1974

Hands, arms, legs, backs, torsos!  In his press release describing the up-coming show Graciously Yours, (Galerie Thierry Bigaignon, May 24-August 31), Thierry Bigaignon, remarks on the “omnipresence of bodies” as a key feature of the 21 prints that will be exhibited. Indeed, Harold’s attraction to the human form and his desire to capture the grace and beauty of the body is a consistent thread throughout his work.

As someone managing an archive, I feel grateful to have both written, audio and video materials to comb through and consolidate — though it may be decades before it’s all archived! There can be no better legacy than an artist’s own words! Fortunately, several of the images selected by Thierry for the up-coming exhibition are among those for which I have audio commentary by Harold. In both cases Harold refers to sculpture as a way to describe the body. They are both posted on our YouTube channel.

https://youtu.be/eh6DpU6ZEB4

Hands,hands,hands,hands!..It reminds me of a Michelangelo sculpture. You can almost see a sculptor carving it out. And yet with photography you can just go click! (We won’t tell the world about this. We’ll keep it among ourselves!)

https://youtu.be/6PAoRGo8j6I

“…our body language…what we say, what we speak of…Here again that sculptural quality and the texture…that wonderful velvety texture of his skin. And hands! What makes hands?! These incredible instruments; that which we have the joy of touching what we love…”

Le Secret, a sculpture by Rodin, photographed by Harold Feinstein, 1987, at the Rodin Museum in Paris

Harold’s  life long love affair with Rodin’s sculpture underscores his way of appreciating the grace of bodies. When he visited the Rodin Museum in 1987, he got permission to walk through before closing time and took four rolls of film in a quick hour as the light faded. He was enamored with these images and wrote about them this way.

I have always felt an affinity for Rodin’s sculpture. When I first photographed his work, I wandered through the museum that was once his home and studio and quickly photographed his sculptures on four rolls of film…While we often think of Rodin’s sculpture in light of the Thinker and the Kiss which were massive in size, the major part of his work was quite small; often between five inches and two feet. Using a macro lens, I photographed most of his pieces from two to twelve inches away. It came so easily to me, with a familiarity that transcended the very short time in which I actually viewed his work…Having been a photographer for the past sixty years, and a precocious artist as a child, I have allowed myself to make intuitive assumptions about Rodin. I hope the photographs in this treatise support them.

I’m glad that curators Francois Cheval and Audrey Hoareau were excited by Harold’s Rodin interpretation. Perhaps some of these beloved images will be seen someday in Rodin’s city;  the city of light! Needless to say, Harold would be thrilled!

Here’s my own pairing of some of the images that will be hanging in the upcoming show, coupled with a few of Harold’s interpretations of Rodin’s sculpture. I hope he would approve!

left: Wet hair swirl, 1974, Vermont;  on exhibit at Galerie Theirry Bigaignon, May 24-August 31
right: Detail from Rodin’s “Danaide” photographed by Harold Feinstein in 1987,  Rodin Museum, Paris

 

left: Lacy Legs, 1969, Coney Island, on exhibit at Galerie Theirry Bigaignon, May 24-August 31
right: detail from an unidentified Rodin sculpture photographed by Harold Feinstein, 1987, Rodin Museum, Paris

 

left: Lady in the lake, 1977, Vermont, on exhibit at Galerie Theirry Bigaignon, May 24-August 31
right: detail from an unidentified Rodin sculpture photographed by Harold Feinstein, 1987, Rodin Museum, Paris

 

left: Four torsos, 1974, Shelter Island, NY, on exhibit at Galerie Theirry Bigaignon, May 24-August 31
right: detail from an unidentified Rodin sculpture photographed by Harold Feinstein, 1987, Rodin Museum, Paris

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