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Rodin Drawings: True and False

November 20, 1971 – January 30, 1972
Ground Floor, Central Gallery (4,000 sq. ft.), Gallery G-8

Auguste Rodin, Two Figures, c. 1905, graphite with wash, Gift of Mrs. John W. Simpson, 1942.5.37

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: 132 drawings by Rodin and 28 forgeries of the artist's work were presented together with 4 sculptures from the Gallery's collection. The Rodin drawings extended from earliest student exercises to the late line drawings of dancers and nudes. Two problems long connected with the drawings of Rodin were addressed in this investigative exhibition: the question of the chronology of his work and the existence of a large number of forgeries.

One section of the exhibition showed 9 works by the known forger Ernst Durig and two others known as Hand A and Hand B. In the last section, True and False, viewers were invited to test their eye with 30 unlabeled originals and fakes and see if they could judge authenticity based on what they had learned in other parts of the exhibition. Also shown were related Rodin sculptures from the National Gallery and other American collections.

Following the settlement of the Ernst Durig estate, which included 155 forgeries, J. Kirk T. Varnedoe, National Gallery Finley fellow and doctoral candidate at Stanford University, and Professor Albert Elsen of Stanford University chose to investigate Rodin's work. Varnedoe's research in the United States and in France was aided by a Ford Foundation graduate fellowship and a study grant from the B.G. Cantor Art Foundation, Los Angeles.

Organization: Gaillard Ravenel and Varnedoe designed the exhibition for the National Gallery, which included reusable, movable modular partitions.

Attendance: 65,872

Catalog: The Drawings of Rodin, by Albert Elsen and J. Kirk T. Varnedoe. New York: Praeger Publishers, Inc., 1971.

Brochure: Rodin Drawings, True and False, by J. Kirk T. Varnedoe. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1971.

Other Venues: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, March 9–May 14, 1972

Rodin, Auguste
French, 1840 - 1917