Sunday, August 29, 2010

CMA and "The Thinker"

This is one of twenty-five 72" enlarged versions of Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker". It is one of the last that Rodin, himself, supervised. It was given to the CMA in 1917. This statue was bombed in 1970.

From the CMA's website:

"At approximately 1:00 am on March 24, 1970, a bomb irreparably damaged the Cleveland Museum's version of Rodin's The Thinker. The bomb itself had been placed on a pedestal that supported the enlargement and had the power of about three sticks of dynamite. According to the Cleveland Police Department, this act of vandalism was committed by a cell of the politically radical Weather Underground that was operating in Cleveland at the time, perhaps as a commentary on the continuing military action in Vietnam or the elitism of the American government. No one was ever arrested or charged with the destruction.

No one was injured in the blast, but the statue's base and lower legs were destroyed. The remaining sections of the cast were blown backward to form a 'plume' at the base, and the entire statue was knocked to the ground. In the aftermath of the bombing, the museum considered three options: 1) obtain and display a replacement cast; 2) repair the sculpture by welding on newly-cast sections to replace the areas that were damaged; 3) mount and display the damaged sculpture. All three options were problematic in some way. With the first, a new cast of the complete sculpture would be removed historically from the original, which was so closely connected with the artist. A recast would in essence be a reproduction. With the second, distortions caused by the dynamite blast would have made it difficult to align the replacement sections with those original sculpture. The third option was chosen largely because it preserved what was left of Rodin's original work and because the damaged sculpture would bear vivid witness to a period of political unrest in the United States during the Vietnam War. Like the museum's other outdoor sculptures, The Thinker now receives routine maintenance twice a year. It is washed and rewaxed each spring and fall."

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