Going back to look again at William Tucker’s book, I find my original impression confirmed—it’s really great. Ideas come tumbling out at every turn of the page. Here’s one insight from the chapter on Rodin:
“With the Prodigal Son and the Crouching Woman, an entirely new concept of anatomy emerges, in which the human body is re-structured in terms of posture…the Crouching Woman assumes the compact, closed form of a bunched fist; within it arms and legs, knees and shoulders are torn from their original structural role, their forms and functions deliberately confused in a wilful re-assembly of the body as a bundle of lumps and axes.”
An early source for abstraction, undoubtedly. Also a very interesting one. Now compare with these details of works by Cézanne and Matisse:
This is not just art history, because what Rodin did with the figure gave Matisse a new way to distribute color, as it gave Cézanne a new way to make architecture out of the entire picture surface.