But none before have picked up these pieces and continued the work of the master. Kiefer requested permission to actually reproduce some of Rodin’s plaster fragments, so that he could integrate them into specially created vitrines. One such example is Sursum corda (2016) – which assembles packed earth, a dried tree, leaves, a metal column, and, at the base, reproductions of Rodin’s plaster heads, torsos, and feet. Depending on your perspective, the Rodin components are either buried, or serve as the seeds of modern experimentation that enabled Kiefer’s contemporary work to sprout roots.
In another vitrine, Palm Sunday (2016), a dried palm leaf is coated in plaster and detached from its trunk—transforming it into a botanical fragment that could be arranged and rearranged continuously, a la Rodin.
Plaster, a material usually reserved for the artistic process and not the finished product, dominates both Rodin and Kiefer’s inclusions in the exhibition. “Both of them are never satisfied with their own work,” explains Chevillot, “and are devoted to constant experimentation.”