Head of a Young Girl
There are some reputations in the art world that are beyond dispute. These artists work is so seminal, their accomplishments so signal, that, even when critics attack the work, they reiterate its importance. Among these titans is the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Rodins work is definitely a harbinger of Modernism, but is also seen by some scholars as the sculptural equivalent of Impressionism. This may be because of his decision to develop, even in stone, a sense of the immediacy of creation. For instance, in Head of a Young Girl, Rodin has chosen a clearly classical material, Carrera marble, but has deliberately left it unfinished, the delicate features just beginning to emerge from the hard stone, chisel marks still evident in the uncut rock. It creates a juxtaposition that forces us to confront simultaneously the smooth beauty of the human face, rendered as a simulacrum of luminous flesh, and the rough hardness of the material from which it is formed. In doing so, it successfully blends the Romantic style of the girl herself with the Modernist fidelity to material and points to the way in which sculpture developed in the 20th century.