Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture -forgeries- at the Palm Springs Art Museum

NOTE: Footnotes are enclosed as [FN ].

Two of the non-disclosed forgeries [Cybele -foreground- falsely attributed to Auguste Rodin & Woman Getting Out of Bath -background left- falsely attributed to Edgar Degas] are in this Palm Springs Art Museum' exhibition photograph posted on the museum's website.

The Palm Springs Art Museum’s March 2012 Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture exhibition contains -at least- two [and probably three] non-disclosed posthumous [1919 or later - 1982] second to third-generation-removed forgeries falsely attributed as original works of visual art ie., sculpture to a dead Auguste Rodin [d 1917] and Edgar Degas [d 1917].

The dead don't sculpt.

Yet, the Palm Springs Art Museum would have the public believe, act on that belief and pay the $12.50 price each for  adult admission to view an exhibition that misleadingly "begins with the monumental bronze seated figure, Cybele, ca. 1890, on loan from the private collection of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. Another Rodin, the museum's smaller important bronze, Glaucus, 1886-87 [and] featuring works by Edgar Degas..."[FN 1]

On page 660 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, -forgery- is defined as: "The act of fraudulently making a false document or altering a real one to be used as if genuine."[FN 2]

This monograph will document these contentious issues of authenticity.

The first non-disclosed posthumous  second-generation-removed forgery in the Palm Springs Art Museum's Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture exhibition is misleadingly listed, on the museum’s website, as: “Auguste Rodin, Cybele, circa 1890, bronze, Musée Rodin cast edition 3/8, Collection of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor.” [FN 3]

This non-disclosed posthumous second-generation-removed forgery is confirmed by the following sources:

  • On page 186 of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s published 2001 Rodin, A Magnificent Obsession catalogue, this same non-disclosed posthumous forgery is listed as follows: “Rodin, Auguste, Cybele, c. 1890, enlarged in 1904, Musee Rodin cast 3/8 in 1982, Bronze, Coubertin, 65 x 34 x 56 in. (165.1 x 86.4 x 142.2 cm), Signed and numbered A. Rodin No. 3/8.”[FN 4]

In 1982, Auguste Rodin [d 1917] was some 65 years dead. The dead don’t sculpt, much less sign and number.

  • On page 241 in the Musee Rodin’s published 2004 RODIN catalogue by Raphael Masson and Veronique Mattiussi, the authors wrote: “1919, March 12: A statue confirms the establishment of the Musee Rodin. (recorded in the Journal Officiel of March 14). August 4: The Musee Rodin opens its doors to the public.”[FN 5]

In other words, the listing “Musee Rodin cast” is an obvious red flag that it could not have been cast “circa 1890,” since the Musee Rodin officially did not go into business till 1919 some two years after Auguste Rodin’s death in 1917.

  • On the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s current 2012 website, it states: “In 1956 French law limited the casting of each of Rodin’s works to twelve examples of each size. In 1968 France passed a law requiring that the date of the cast be inscribed on each sculpture. A system of numbering was established by French legislation in 1981 whereby the first eight of the twelve casts, numbered 1/8–8/8, are made available for public purchase; the last four, numbered I/IV–IV/IV, are reserved for cultural institutions. (Despite these efforts, variations in the numbering system are occasionally found on authorized casts.)”[FN 6]

Despite the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation's above new and recent disclaimer: "variations in the numbering" on their website, under U.S. Copyright Law 101A. for a work of visual art ie., sculpture to be considered limited, much less part of a limited edition, it must be "signed and numbered by the author."

The dead don't sculpt original works of visual art ie., sculpture, much less sign and number.

  • On page 280 of the Musee Rodin’s published 2007 The Bronzes of Rodin catalogue by Antoinette Normand-Romain, the number of  large Cybele bronzes with the 164 cm height dimensions, is documented by the former Musee Rodin curator as: “cast by Alexis Rudier: London, Victoria and Albert Museum, gift of Rodin following the exhibition 1914, London, no. 98 [the ‘large seated woman’ cast in 1913 for the sum of 3,500 francs]. Eleven cast by Fonderie de Coubertin, from 1981: 1/8, © 1981, Brooklyn Museum of Art...” and one for the Musee Rodin’s collection also cast by the Coubertin foundry and listed as “Signed A. Rodin” with “No. 0 left of signature.”[FN 7]

If the first Cybele was cast by the Alexis Rudier foundry in 1913, how could a posthumous cast by the Coubertin foundry in 1981 be the first and numbered 1/8?

Then to go from the ridiculous to the sublime, are we to believe the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s scholarship when they state that a “system of numbering was established by the French legislation in 1981 whereby the first eight of the twelve casts [are] numbered 1/8-8/8 - last four numbered I/IV-IV/IV”[FN 8]  when the Musee Rodin has in their collection a thirteenth Cybele with the inscription 0/8? 

Aside, what the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation believes or wants the public to believe, "1/8-8/8" is eight, "I/IV-IV/IV" is four and 0/8 is one for a grand total of thirteen, one more than twelve.

So, if the numbers don’t add up, should we count on Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation's scholarship?

Then to add insult to injury, the Musee Rodin admits, on their website, that the museum sends posthumous plaster reproductions rather than Auguste Rodin's original lifetime plasters to foundries for posthumous casting in bronze. The Musee Rodin's reasoning is that it "preserves the old plasters which are obviously more valuable since they were made during the lifetime of Rodin."[FN 9]

That means the posthumous cast bronzes, the Musee Rodin issues,  are not reproductions of the objects mandated by Auguste Rodin in his 1916 Will but non-disclosed posthumous 2nd-generation-removed forgeries. 

On page 816-817 of Kluwer Law International’s published 1998 Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts, Third Edition by John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen wrote about “Counterfeit Art. and under the subtitle “Truth,” the authors wrote: “The most serious harm that good counterfeits do is to confuse and misdirect the search for valid learning. The counterfeit objects falsifies history and misdirects inquiry.”[FN 10]

The second non-disclosed posthumous [and third-generation-removed] forgery in the Palm Springs Art Museum's Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture exhibition is indirectly listed on another website as: “Edgar Degas, Woman Getting Out of Bath, 1896, Bronze..” [FN 11] 

This non-disclosed posthumous third-generation-removed forgery is confirmed by the following sources:

  • DEGAS' TRUE INTENT On page 95 of the College Art Association’s published spring 1995 “art journal,” in a Degas Bronzes? article by Roger J. Crum, the author wrote: “In Wilken’s essay we read that in 1921 Francois Thiebault-Sisson recalled that Degas had once said: I modeled animals and people in wax for my own satisfaction, not to take to rest from painting or drawing, but to give more expression, more spirit, and more life to my paintings and drawings. They are exercises to get me started. My sculptures will never give that impression of completion that is the ultimate goal of the statue-maker’s trade and since, after all, no one will ever see these efforts, no one should think of speaking about them, not even you. After my death all that will fall apart by itself, and that will be better for my reputation. (p. 23).”[FN 12]

  • DEGAS NEVER CAST HIS SCULPTURE  On page 180 in the National Gallery of Art’s published 1998 Degas at the Races catalogue,  in Daphne S. Barbour’s and Shelly G. Sturman’s “The Horse in Wax and Bronze” essay, these authors wrote: “Degas never cast his sculpture in bronze, claiming that it was a “tremendous responsibility to leave anything behind in bronze -- the medium is for eternity.”[FN 13]

  • 2ND TO 3RD GENERATION REMOVED  On page 78 of the “Degas; The Sculptures” essay by Hirshhorn Curator of Sculpture Valerie J. Fletcher, published in Ann Dumas and David A. Brenneman’s 2001 Degas and America The Early Collectors catalogue, the author wrote: “In 1919-20 Hebrard’s founder Albino Palazzolo, made a first set of {Degas} bronzes. -- Those 'masters' served to make molds for casting edition of twenty-two bronzes. Technically, all bronzes except the master set are surmoulages.”'[FN 14]

  • COUNTERFEIT DEGAS SIGNATURES  On page 32-33 in Charles W. Milliard’s 1976 The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, the author wrote: “Each cast is stamped with the legend 'cire perdue A.A. Hebrard' in relief, and incised with the signature ‘Degas.’” Later on page 34, the author wrote: “At least some of the casts were set on wooden bases into which the signature “Degas” was burned.”[FN 15]

  • BRASS NOT BRONZE  This metallurgical discovery is confirmed on page 26 of the National Gallery of Art’s published 2010 Edgar Degas Sculptures catalogue, in the “Degas’ Bronzes Analyzed” essay by Shelly G. Sturman and Daphne S. Barbour. In part, the authors wrote: “Analysis of the elemental surface composition of the National Gallery sculptures was performed using X R F, a noninvasive technique. An alloy of copper and zinc with low to medium tin and traces of lead was used to cast all the sculptures. Results were also compared to X R F analysis undertaken at the Norton Simon Museum on the bronze modeles and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on some of the serial A set as well. - Bronze is a misnomer for these sculptures, because they are all cast from brass (copper and zinc with tin).”[FN 16]

In other words, the Palm Springs Art Museum is exhibiting a non-disclosed third-generation-removed brass [not bronze] forgery [in all likelihood with a counterfeit "Degas" signature inscribed] falsely attributed to a dead Edgar Degas that he has -never- seen.

On page 816-817 of Kluwer Law International’s published 1998 Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts, Third Edition by John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen wrote about “Counterfeit Art. and under the subtitle “Resource Allocation,” the authors wrote: “Museum and art historical resources are always limited. What gets acquired, displayed, conserved and studied is the result of a continuous process of triage, in which some objects can be favoured only at the expenses of others. Counterfeit objects distort the process.”[FN 17]

The third [and probable] non-disclosed posthumous forgery in the Palm Springs Art Museum’s collection is the titled: Glaucus bronze, attributed to Auguste Rodin with a “1886-87”[FN 18] date.

The earliest documented Glaucus bronze cast is from a Musee Rodin so-called edition of twelve cast in 1972, found in the Brooklyn Museum of Art and listed as: “Artist: Auguste Rodin, French, 1840-1917, Cast By: Georges Rudier Fondeur, Paris, Bronze, before 1891, cast 1972, 7 7/8 x 6 1/8 x 4 7/8 in. (20.0 x 15.6 x 12.4 cm) (show scale), Foundry mark, back lower edge: ".Georges Rudier./.Fondeur. Paris." Copyright mark, proper left side, lower edge: "© by Musée Rodin 1972," Signature: Back, base: "A. Rodin" Interior, raised stamp: "A. Rodin," Accession Number: 84.75.5, Edition: 1/12, Credit Line: Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.”[FN 19]

Now there is a possibility that the French collector Antoni Roux, who purchased the original Glaucus plaster and all the “rights of reproduction”[FN 20] from Auguste Rodin in 1891, may have certainly had bronze reproductions cast from it but -at best- they would be reproductions not sculptures.

Under the Association of Art Museum Director's endorsed 2001 Professional Practices, this possible lifetime or posthumous  reproduction in bronze of Auguste Rodin’s Glaucus plaster [owned by Antoni Roux] could not even be displayed or sold in the Palm Springs Art Museum’s  gift shop if it contained a foundry mark, edition number and/or Auguste Rodin name inscription.

This is confirmed on page 31 in the Association of Art Museum Directors' published  2001 Professional Practices in Art Museum publication, it states: "museums must clearly indicate, through the use of integral markings on the objects, as well as signs, labels, and advertising, that these items are reproductions - signatures, editions numbers, and/or foundry marks on sculpture must not appear on the reproduction. - The touting of exaggerated investment value of reproductions must be avoided because the object or work being offered for purchase is not original and the resale value is highly in doubt. - When advertising reproductions, museums should not use language implying that there is any identity of quality between the copy and the original or lead the potential buyer to believe that by purchasing any such reproduction, he or she is acquiring an original work of art."[FN 21]

The Palm Springs Art Museum director Steven Nash is a current member of the Association of Art Museum Directors.[FN 22]

Additionally, as an Association of Art Museum Director member, director Steven Nash endorses the College Art Association’s ethics on sculptural reproductions which, in part, states “any transfer into new material unless specifically condoned by the artist, is to be considered inauthentic or counterfeit and should not be displayed or exhibited as a work of art.”[FN 23]

Unfortunately, too many to mention in the museum, auction house and academic industry are under the misconception [or misrepresentation] that anything posthumously cast can somehow be considered a sculpture ie., original work of visual art  by that dead artist, if the artist, before he died like Auguste Rodin, gave permission for his work to be cast posthumously.

J. Paul Getty Museum, under their Getty Research, defines -counterfeit- as: "forgeries (derivative objects)" with a note stating: "Reproductions of whole objects when the intention is to deceive; includes sculptures cast without the artist's permission."[FN 24]

Aside, cast by definition means to reproduce an object such as a sculpture by use of a mold resulting in reproductions, Auguste Rodin  and the State of France fully understood his bronzes and the like reproduced during his lifetime were reproductions because when they drew up his Will in 1916, Auguste Rodin gave in writing “the reproductions rights to the objects given by him”[FN 25] and the State of France accepted those terms.

Despite the Palm Springs Art Museum’s “Mission Statement,”  which in part, states it is: “the cultural and educational leader in the greater desert community,”[FN 26] this is not the first time its' director Steven Nash has been confronted by issues of authenticity with a museum's collection under his tutelage.

These same contentious issues of authenticity were raised with another cultural institution’s collection, the Nasher Sculpture Center, when it opened in 2003 and the current Palm Springs Art Museum director Steven Nash was its’ first director. To read the monograph documenting those contentious issues of authenticity with the Nasher Sculpture Center's collection, click on this link:  14 FORGERIES & the Nasher Sculpture Center

Finally, on page 816-817 of Kluwer Law International’s published 1998 Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts, Third Edition by John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen wrote about “Counterfeit Art. and under the subtitle “Fraud,” the authors wrote: “There remains the most obvious harm of all: counterfeit cultural objects are instruments of fraud. Most are created in order to deceive and defraud, but even “innocent” counterfeits can, and often will, be so used. The same considerations of justice and social order that make deliberate fraud of others kinds criminal apply equally to fraud through the medium of counterfeit art...”[FN 27]

What needs to be accomplished is the full and honest disclosure by all museums, auction houses, academia, galleries and art dealers. If the Palm Springs Art Museum, in their March 2012 Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture exhibition, will give full and honest disclosure to all forgeries as: -forgeries-, much less reproductions as -reproductions-, it would allow consumer the potential to give informed consent on whether to attend an exhibition with at least two forgeries, much less pay the $12.50 price of admission.

But if those forgeries are not fully and honestly disclosed for what they truly are, then potential serious consequences of law may come into play for those who chose to misrepresent those forgeries for profit.

The reputations and legacy of living and past artists, present and future consumers ie. the art-buying public deserve the re-establishment of the obvious; that the living presence and participation of the artist to once again be required, as it always should have been, to create the piece of art attributable to the artist if indeed it is attributed to them, much less purported to have been signed by them.  


"Upcoming Exhibition" section under the subtitle: "Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture OPENING MARCH 2012, PALM SPRINGS ART MUSEUM IN PALM DESERT"  

2. Copyright © 1999, By West Group, ISBN 0-314-22864-0


4. Copyright 2001 © Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, ISBN 85894143 hardback

5. © Editions Flammarion, Paris-Musee Rodin, 2004, ISBN (Musee Rodin): 2-9014-2858-


7.Volume 1, Musee Rodin: 972-2-9014-2890-9, RMN: 978-2-7118-4941-3, © Musee Rodin Paris, 2007, 19, boulevard des Invalides, 75007 Paris


First, go to the website,
then under “Contents on the left column click on “Collections,”
once on new screen click on the “Meudon” button,
then scoll down new screen till you reach the photograph of
“Assemblage of two figures of Even and crouching women”
and then count fourteen lines down for the quote.

10. © Kluwer Law International 1998, ISBN 90-411-0697-9


12. Art Journal © 1995 College Art Association,

13. © 1998 National Gallery of Art ISBN 0-300-07517-0

14. Copyright © 2000 by High Museum of Art, ISBN 0-8478-2340-7


16. © 2010 ISBN 978-0-691-14897-7, National Gallery of Art, Washington,

17.  © Kluwer Law International 1998, ISBN 90-411-0697-9



“Rodin executed this composition between 1883, when the sculpture of the 'Seated Old Man' existed already, and 1891, when a plaster model of the group 'Glaucus' was sold to the collector Antoni Roux. The contract of sale identified the plaster as the "original" sculpture and transferred all rights of reproduction to Roux, but it is believed that Rodin had already made casts in bronze and plaster. As a consequence, several "original" 'Glaucus' plasters later turned up from various public and private collections, each item was proposed to be the one purchased by Roux. The real Roux plaster is now kept in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Boulogne-sur-Mer.”

21. Published in 2001 by the Association of Art Museum Directors, 41 East 65th Street, New York, New York 10021, ISBN 1-880974-02-9


23. Published in 2001 by the Association of Art Museum Directors, 41 East 65th Street, New York, New York 10021, ISBN 1-880974-02-9


25. Auguste Rodin’s 1916 Will, in part, stated: “notwithstanding the transfer of artistic ownership authorized to the State of M. Rodin, the latter expressly reserves for himself the enjoyment, during his life, of the reproduction rights of those objects given by him.” (Page 285 in the former Musee Rodin curator Monique Laurent’s “Observations on Rodin and His Founders” essay, published in the National Gallery of Art’s published 1981 Rodin Rediscovered ISBN 0-89468-001-3 (pbk)


27. © Kluwer Law International 1998, ISBN 90-411-0697-9


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