Art and Controversy in Philadelphia

    Sarah miduski
    27 Sep 2017
    Clock 30min      Length1mi
    1 rating

    The Gates of Hell

    Pay wave

    Looming in front of you is Rodin’s Gates of Hell.

    Let’s stop here so we can admire this massive work by the sculptor.

    [1.5 SECOND PAUSE]

    Rodin was asked to create doors for a new museum being built in Paris. When he was told he could create the doors using whatever subject matter he liked, I’m not sure those making the request anticipated a work depicting lost souls being flung into the fiery depths of Hell.

    The work was originally meant to depict scenes from Dante’s Inferno, but it took on a life of its own. Though the Inferno continued to be the inspiration for the piece, the intertwining characters were created from a variety of works, or from Rodin’s imagination.
    Unfortunately, the museum was scrapped, but Rodin continued to work on The Gates of Hell for 37 years, all the way up to his death. Never truly completing the work, it sat in its original plaster form for years, until the first bronze cast was made to be displayed here in Philadelphia.

    There are many characters featured on the Gates of Hell like The Thinker, and The Three Shades, that were later turned into single, larger, sculptures.

    The lack of detail on many of the figures on The Gates of Hell was thought to be due to Rodin not finishing his work. But in actuality, the lack of detail is purposeful. Always the pusher of boundaries, Rodin wanted to create a piece of sculpture that rebelled against detailed perfection and instead portrayed the abstract. The abstract nature of the piece increases the intensity of the characters’ despair. It almost seems like some of the figures are melting away as they descend, helplessly, into the chaos.

    It is said that many of the faces of the women in the sculpture are those Rodin knew throughout his life. Although it would be cool to be immortalized in a work of art, I’m not so sure I’d want to be portrayed as a sinful figure in agony receiving her just punishment by being tossed into the eternal inferno.

    [1.5 SECOND PAUSE]

    When you’re finished viewing The Gates of Hell, walk down the stairs and continue going to the right along the path.

Similar Audio Tours in Philadelphia

Philadeplphia prison tour

Heart of America: Philadelphia Prison Tour

Distance 0.5mi
Duration 15min
4 ratings

Come join an intrepid team of American investigative history street scourers as they voyage from one major American symbol to next: Liberty! Freedom! Prisons. Human rights abuses. Bad art. You think you know America? Well, wait til you see America.

Locicon 561-599 Ches...
Harry profpic 200x200
Philadelphia waterfront historical aduio tour

Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront

Distance 2mi
Duration 40min
8 ratings

This route explores the north central Philadelphia waterfront, focusing on what remains of this historic locale after the installation of Interstate I-95 in the 1970s, and relating (among other things) how early Quaker settlors lived in caves... More»

Locicon 204 Church S...
by Leon J. Pollom in Philadelphia
15 Dec 2019

Drive PA Indian Paths: Turnpike Eastbound, Part 4

Distance 75mi
Duration 80min
1 rating

This tour is Part 4 of a four-part eastbound Pennsylvania Turnpike series that eliminates turnpike boredom. To access the rest of the series, just tap on my author profile.

It tells incredible prehistoric tales of ancient Indians who once... More»