Enfin, Paris!: Rodin, toujours 2.

rm view out the windowLooking out the window reminded me of early Renoir, what a place it must have been for Rodin to live and work!

Athlète américain The American AthleteAthlète américain (The American Athlete) how different this portrait is compared to The Thinker.

La Defénse (The Call to Arms)La Defénse (The Call to Arms) has to be one of the most dramatic pieces, transcending most of the Rococo around it.

This one is done in bronze and retaining its originally green and brass patina. This has a kind of excitement that many of the more solemn, quieter pieces do not have.

four kisses plus marbleLe Baiser (The Kiss) was the name critics actually gave this piece.

Beauty has become such a cheap word. We use it for just about anything, but in that afternoon in Paris, beauty seemed to hide herself in various corners of the Hôtel Biron (Musée Rodin). There are so many classic pieces here, displayed in a very informal manner. There are many pieces which are instructive as well. The large scale Kiss, both in clay and marble, show the thought that went into the piece. The tension of the male feet, almost surprised by the kiss are beautiful, and gives insight into Rodin’s thinking. In the shot below, notice her feet are more active, as if springing into action.

kiss feet

kiss hands


kiss 4

And then there is the work of Claudel. You sit there for a while, being hit between the eyes, that you have crossed over from one artist to another, just as you sometimes do when you go from Rubens to van Dyke. But here is a real difference in feeling.

claudel vertumne et pomone vertumnus and pomona2Claudel’s Vertumne et Pomone (Vertumnus and Pomona), which we could refer as her version of The Kiss.

Camille Claudel’s complexity in really generating feeling concretely gives us a genuine interest in her work, less than just being a protégé. Think for example of many of Rodin’s works, say, The Burghers of Calais, which has emotion but never quite what she will give us in the pieces below. And she has a very different sense of scale.

mr 3 plaster

mr 3 plaster detailPlaster version of Camille Claudel’s  L’Âge Mûr (Age of Maturity), first version.


mr cc composite2Bronze version of Camille Claudel’s  L’Âge Mûr (Age of Maturity), second version.

It shows a difference in kind. Van Gogh, though locked up in the asylum, was encouraged to pursue his painting. Claudel, on the other hand spent the last thirty years doing nothing. What a waste, which makes the room of her work her seem inevitably more important. When I viewed this work, I shot all the cards, but never read them. And 2 years later, I am seeing that this is the work of Camille Claudel, the one time love of Rodin, and a brilliant sculptor in her own right. I loved the freedom of the bronze piece, which reminded me someone of pieces like The Beloved by Rodin, but this one has a wonderful sense of balance/imbalance that was not his style. There is also something more akin to Degas’ dancers, especially in the faces, which makes me wonder is there any connection between Degas and Claudel? Might her work have influenced him? In any event, whether mental illness or family neglect, a powerhouse lost to us, except in these beautiful pieces. Shame on Rodin. Or thank you, Rodin, perhaps she would have been lost forever.

mr rodins plaster busts of camille claudel comosite2Rodin’s plaster busts of Camille Claudel

mr Rodin L'Adieu FarewellRodin’s L’Adieu (Farewell)


By the way, if you are in Philly, there is a wonderful Rodin Museum a block away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There is also another post on Rodin. Oh, if I didn’t have to write plans and grade papers, how these posts would go so much faster!!!!



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