Stumbling away from the mass of tourists still surrounding the Louvre and filling the central courtyard, I make my way in the bright sunlight towards Pont de la Concorde and decide to walk to Musee Rodin – my next stop on this Free Museum Day in Paris. If I really want to save time, maximizing the amount of museums I can fit into the day, I should take le Metro. However, there hasn’t been a lot of visible sun since I’ve been in Paris. I prefer to soak up every moment I can, pondering the great sculptor whose works I’ve admired since I was a girl, as I make my way to Rue de Varenne.
It’s not as easy as I think it will be. The way Paris streets twist and turn, nothing is ever as simple as it looks on Google Maps. However, I’m on the edge of my beloved Saint-Germain-des-Prés – the architecture is beautiful and that warm sun is still shining. My thoughts stray to François-Auguste-René Rodin as my feet navigate the cobblestone and uneven pavement. I’m smiling, saying “Bonjour” to the people I share the narrow sidewalks with as we weave around one another trying not to end up in the street when a car passes. When someone replies, I’m truly on cloud nine.
Rodin has fascinated me since I saw a copy of The Thinker outside the DIA as a young girl. I was pouting because my family had moved from Vermont to Michigan and I didn’t like it – I buried myself in a love of art to mend my wounds. I’m not sure I ever fully emerged from that burial. I also discovered Diego Rivera and his great frescoes in the Rivera Court that day. Passionate art like that, all in one day, is bound to change a person and both men led such controversial personal lives. I think one of the aspects of Rodin’s life that has always by equal points saddened and fascinated me is that he didn’t marry his longtime love Rose Beuret – until the last year of both their lives. His affair with Camille Claudel gets most of the press. How can one look at The Kiss and not wonder about its creator and that artist’s own loves? When all is said and done, it’s the staggering dichotomy in his complete body of work that most intrigues me. From the more classical forms found in The Kiss which seem inspired by the Italian artists who preceded him, to his looser sketches and busts and the almost ferocity of The Gates of Hell … he has almost seemed to me as long as I’ve enjoyed his work: like two artists, in one. I might be alone in my theory and I wonder if it will change at all when I enter Musee Rodin. View full post »
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