NCMA Recommends: The Cathedral

Auguste Rodin, The Cathedral, modeled 1908, Mus©e Rodin cast 1955, H. 25 1/4 x W. 12 3/4 x D. 13 1/2 in., bronze, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation

Rodin glorified nature as it is, finding beauty in ugliness and going against the prevailing artistic trend of perfecting nature’s flaws. That’s what makes his sculptures feel so modern. In presenting the world as he saw it, Rodin created works of art that speak to universal human emotion and connection.

His skill in making the intimate monumental is on full view in The Cathedral, a pair of large, intertwining right hands. Evoking prayer as much as the pointed arches of a Gothic cathedral, Rodin’s sculpture showcases the best of his ability to capture something divine in this gentle human touch, larger than life-size and put on display for generations to enjoy and contemplate.

Video Visit with Curator Michele Frederick

Join Michele Frederick, associate curator of European art, to learn more about what makes Auguste Rodin’s sculptures feel so modern, even 100 years after his death.

Gothic Cathedrals around the World

The beautiful shape of the two hands in Rodin’s sculpture brings to mind the vault of a Gothic cathedral–hence the title. We invite you to explore Gothic cathedrals and architecture around the world.–Felicia K. Ingram, Manager of Interpretation

To begin your tour, check out these panoramic videos:

– Notre Dame in Paris

– Duomo in Milan

– La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (click on the hotspots as you explore)

Art and Science

How can art and science overlap? A 2014 exhibition at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, Inside Rodin’s Hands: Art, Technology, and Surgery, integrated high-tech imaging with the art of Rodin in partnership with the university’s Department of Surgery. Watch the video to learn more about the project’s 3-D modeling of hands sculpted by Rodin.

Rodin’s Lost-Wax Casting Process

Making Rodin’s The Cathedral was a time-consuming, painstaking journey from plaster mod- el, to impression, to wax, to granulated ceramic model, and finally to complete bronze sculpture. See the full process at NCMALearn.

Film Series on Gratitude

Rodin’s The Cathedral reminds us of the power and fragility of human life and inspires us to reflect on what we are grateful for. This week we recommend a series of short films about gratitude.–Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs

Gratitude Revealed. Director: Louie Schwartzberg. Fifteen short films that explore the science, mystery, and meaning of gratitude.

– Learn more about the series here.

– Watch the introductory video to the series here.

– Watch the complete series here.

Related Reading

By Rodin:

– Rodin on Art and Artists by Auguste Rodin and Paul Gsell (Dover, 1971)

– Cathedrals of France by Auguste Rodin (Black Swan Books, 1981)

– About Rodin: Auguste Rodin by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Jessie Lemont and Hans Trausil (Sunwise Turn, 1919), digitized and made available by HathiTrust

– Fiction: Naked Came I: A Novel of Rodin by David Weiss (William Morrow, 1963)

Poems of Gratitude

The Museum’s collection of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures is a constant favorite, and The Cathedral inspires in us feelings of gratitude for the wonder of this work of art. We acknowledge that gratitude can be a mixed emotion, one inspired by sheer joy and one inspired by memories accompanied by regret.

This week we highlight Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays.” We invite you to write a poem expressing gratitude, in whatever form you are experiencing it, and to share it with the tag @ncartmuseum. You can find a fuller discussion of this topic at NCMALearn.–Katherine White, Deputy Director

Audio Description

The recording below is an audio description of The Cathedral. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.

Connecting through Music

The Cathedral reminds us of the importance of meditation, reflection, and connection. Exploring gratitude can lead to tenderness of heart, joy, and often healing. We hope this playlist can accompany you through this emotive process.–Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager, NCMA Amphitheater

Family Activity

Taking Rodin’s The Cathedral as your inspiration, create a family hand portrait. Ideas for this project and others are on NCMALearn, along with read-aloud ideas on the themes of gratitude and giving.–Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator

Healing Hands of Gratitude and Comfort

The Cathedral portrays human connection and the healing power of reaching out for each other. Despite physical distance, you can still practice finding this connection through a short, kid-friendly “thankful thoughts” meditation with Growga and these simple self-soothing touch techniques.


May 08 - 09, 2020


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
For More Information:
(919) 715-5923
Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm
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