Second Impressions: The Sculpture of Medardo Rosso

, Arthur M. Sackler Museum , Saint Louis Art Museum , Nasher Sculpture Center
Arthur M. Sackler Museum Saint Louis Art Museum Nasher Sculpture Center

Medardo Rosso (1858–1928) was a key figure in the birth of modern sculpture, a daring innovator who saved and exhibited his wax casts rather than transforming them into bronzes. The fluid modeling and uncanny radiance of these works earned him the title “impressionist sculptor,” but his fame did not last, in part because he was not prolific in the usual sense. He sculpted only about 50 different pieces, mostly heads and busts, casting and recasting each in dozens of versions.

What was the point of all these variations? What was Rosso after? This exhibition, the first at a U.S. museum in 40 years, attempts to answer that question by focusing on five of Rosso’s works: from the early mother-and-child group Aetas aurea (The Golden Age, 1886–87); to the full-figure Bookmaker (c. 1894), which influenced Rodin’s Monument to Balzac; to the larger-than-life bust Ecce puer (Behold the Child, 1906), his last and greatest work.

Visitors will be invited to compare versions of each work in plaster, wax, and bronze, to consider issues of lighting, mounting, and presentation, and to discover the techniques Rosso used to arrive at his remarkable results, which were admired by the likes of Rodin, Henry Moore, and Alberto Giacometti.

Organized by Harry Cooper, curator of modern art, Fogg Art Museum. Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional funding provided by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Dr. Sheldon G. and Irma Gilgore, the José Soriano Fund, and Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr., in honor of Professor Sydney Freedberg, Sr.