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Rodin actions at Y. surprise art curators

Patrons at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art Monday viewed "The Hands of Rodin, a Tribute to B. Gerald Cantor" exhibit without four pieces deemed undignified.

Art curators say they're surprised at BYU's decision not to display the statues.Four nude statues by 19th century French sculptor Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin will not be shown during the exhibit's stay at BYU, which continues through Jan. 24, 1998. "The Kiss," "Saint John the Baptist Preaching," "The Prodigal Son" and "Monument to Balzac" all depart from the message given by the rest of the 56-piece exhibit, said Museum of Art director Campbell Gray.

"Nudity isn't the issue, it's more the (lack of dignity)," he said.

A representative of the foundation that loaned the exhibit to BYU expressed surprise that the four pieces will not be shown. BYU also decided not to distribute a free pamphlet the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation produced to go along with the exhibit. However, the BYU Bookstore will sell two books about the Rodin exhibit.

"Rodin's subject matter is the nude figure, generally," said Rachael Blackburn, curator of exhibitions at the Cantor Foundation, which has loaned the exhibit to several major art museums around the country. "If you get Rodin, that's what you get."

Blackburn said the Rodin pieces have not raised controversy at other places, including some universities and museums with religious affiliations.

"We didn't really understand the internal decisions going on there," Blackburn said. "It's not our preference that this be the situation, but we'll live with it. We didn't want to be reactionary about it."

BYU will store the four pieces until the entire exhibit is returned to the Cantor Foundation, Blackburn said.