Today: the Rodin Museum. I spent the entire day there drawing, writing, documenting.
His works haunt me. Experiencing this museum was one of those revelations where you sense that from this exact point in time, nothing can ever be the same. There is a stake in the ground and a deep inner shift has taken place. Rodin was a force of nature. In his prolific life as a sculptor, he produced hundreds of drawings, plaster and marble studies (maquettes) and fully finished bronze cast sculptures. Many of his best-known works, such as "the Thinker" and "the Three Shades" were actually preparatory studies for the masterpiece that he worked on throughout his whole life and never fully completed - "The Gates of Hell"
based on Dante's 'Divine Comedy', and also on Ghiberti's 'Gates of Paradise' that I saw a few years ago in Florence.
At church on Sunday (this great English-speaking church I found), the pastor read a meditation from the Old Testament - Ezekiel ch. 37, the infamous "Valley of Dry Bones" passage in which God transports the prophet Ezekiel to a valley filled with old dried bones of scattered Israelites. God then commands Ezekiel to tell the bones to rise up and join together, and they did. Then he commanded them to take on ligaments, and then flesh, and then Finally, God breathed the Spirit of life into them. Before Ezekiel's very eyes these dry bones were re-assembled into bodies -living ones. It is read during Lent as a promise of resurrection and redemption - the Legacy of Christ and abundant new life birthed out of hopelessness and sorrow. In Rodin's works, I see these themes, as the figures seem to be writhing, coming to life, struggling, emerging, being birthed, full of joy, pain, and the range of human emotional landscape.
This blog entry about Rodin would not be complete without mention of his brilliant student, protege, muse, and lover, Camille Claudel. Camille was a fierce talent and personality all her own. Her beauty, strong will, and passion for art lead her to great success as a sculptor, but also lead to her tragic downward spiral toward the end of her life (which I won't go into here). Here was a woman fighting to forge a vision and artistic identity separate from that of her master mentor, Rodin. There was a room at the Museum dedicated to her (her works below).
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