Thu, May 25, 2000 - Page 11 News List

Classic art from home and abroad

By Juping Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Rodin, a name that seems only to appear in art history books, is rarely seen in the exhibitions of local museums, yet at a sculpture display at Galerie Elegance Taipei, the well-known, age-old name is represented by "The Messenger of God."

The bronze piece, beautifully portraying a woman's body, is the master artist's best version of numerous attempts to perfect the sculpture. The antique artwork, made in 1890, wound up in Taipei some years after the gallery's owner, Willington Lee, fell in love with the artist's work during a 1985 visit to the Rodin Museum in Paris. In 1994, after advertising internationally, he finally obtained the exhibited piece from a private collector in Paris.

"This is the best one, though decapitated and losing one arm," said Lee, as he opened several of his art books to show the different versions of "The Messenger of God" by Rodin. "It all started with the famous Greek sculpture `Venice de Milo.' Even though without arms, it is still the best Venice we've ever had. Artists learn that being incomplete is even more beautiful."

The piece is priced at NT$9 million, and was recently sold to a collector in the high-tech industry. Rare art tailors to a niche market, to a limited few that can afford it and are knowledgeable about it, Lee said.

"The appreciation of the antique artwork did not go as fast and high as Taiwan's economy in the last ten years, which is why now we can afford rare art priced with more than six zeros tailing behind," said Lee. "But eventually, we also hope that private collectors will donate their possessions and the public can all enjoy them without a price."

Other master artists featured in the show are 19th century artist Degas, represented by his sculpture of Pan, the god of cowherds; Camille, the well-known mistress of Rodin, represented by her "La jeune fille a la gerbe" (1887); French sculptor Arman, represented by his "Guitare Abacale"; and Spanish artist Dali.

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