Rodin is considered the pioneer of modern sculpture, though he did not initially intend to challenge the popular aesthetic of the past. Rodin used a traditionally method to his work, and desired academic recognition although he was never accepted into the École des Beaux-Arts.
Rodin had a distinct ability to render complex and churning surfaces in clay, going against the principal figure sculpture tradition in which works were decorative or highly thematic. Consequently, many of Rodin's most notable sculptures were routinely criticized during his long career. Despite the controversy surrounding his art, Rodin refused to change his methodology resulting in consecutive works generating increasing acclaim from both the government and the artistic community.