Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel In a time of strict academic holds in the artistic world, Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel moved the art of sculpting into the future. Known by many as “the father of modern sculpture (Bio. ),” Rodin has produced such a great number of notable works that he is one of the “few artists recognizable to the general public (Brucker). ” As art was shifting from the portrayal of mythical scenes and historical events to a focus on everyday life in the Impressionist period, Rodin brought attention to the lives common people through sculpture.
It can be derived from his failed attempts in applying to the classic schools of his time that Rodin did not set out to revolutionize art in his field, but his unconventional style ended up completely changing what sculpture means to the world (Musee Rodin). One of Rodin’s key goals and greatest successes in creating his sculptures was to evoke the “fleeting mobility” of the human form (Brucker).
He boldly states that “it is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop, and if the artist succeeds in producing the impression of a movement which takes several moments for accomplishment, his work is certainly much less conventional than the scientific image, where time is abruptly suspended (Brucker). ” Brucker of Art Insight describes that “to achieve this, he abandoned the polished and idealized figures of academic sculpture and produced rougher, more unfinished surfaces, which better expressed restlessness, corporeality, and movement.
This new style was effective and influential to the progression of art at the time, as Brucker states that “Henri Matisse was influenced by the spontaneity of his drawings, while Cubists and Futurists were fascinated by his sense of motion and the fragmentation of his human forms. ” Particularly after an inspirational trip to Italy in 1876, Rodin progressed in his own style of faces of emotion, and bodies expressing both strength and pain (Bio. ).
In regard to his trip, Rodin is quoted as having stated that “It was Michelangelo who liberated me from academicism (Cantor Foundation). ” Aside from producing decorations, Rodin was commissioned to create busts, full-body statues, and monuments for many important figures, including the author Balzac in 1891 (New World Encyclopedia). A visit to the Musee Rodin in Paris revealed that throughout his life, Rodin created a great number of individual sculptures of the heads of people from different regions of Europe, along with many studies on individual parts of his models.
A quote of Rodin’s, found on ArtInsight. com, states that “every part of the human figure is expressive,” a belief that he sought to prove throughout his career. He had an incredible eye for detail, and studied his models from all angles and in all forms of light that he could access. Above all, Auguste Rodin was talented, “possessing an ability to organize a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface, he set himself apart from the predominant figure sculpture of the time (New World Encyclopedia).
From this new beginning, Rodin’s work was phenomenal and controversial at once. New World Encyclopedia describes his struggle well, stating how “a pose might be considered too informal, the exactness of his forms too real, or the lack of a heroic theme found disrespectful. ” His first full-scale work, The Age of Bronze, was so flawless that Rodin was accused of surmoulage, the act of taking the cast of a living model. Although it was accepted into the Salon in 1877, critics were thrown off by its lack of theme (New World Encyclopedia).
The name suggested the Bronze Age and was described by Rodin as “man arising from nature,” but later Rodin said that all he had in mind was “just a simple piece of sculpture without reference to subject (New World Encyclopedia). ” Neoclassical critics described the astounding work as “a statue of a sleepwalker” and “an astonishingly accurate copy of a low type (New World Encyclopedia). ” In 1880, Rodin was commissioned by the French government to create a monumental portal entrance for what was to be the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris (Vincent).
Rodin worked on this doorway for thirty-seven years, naming it The Gates of Hell after being inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, but died before he finished the work (Musee Rodin). Although the museum was never completed and the portal never put to use as a doorway, a majority of Rodin’s most famous pieces originated from this commission, including The Kiss, The Three Shades, and The Thinker. Originally Rodin removed individual pieces from the framework to preserve them in plaster, as over the decades the clay reliefs had begun to deteriorate (Vincent).
The isolation and combinations of the pieces interested individual collectors, and Rodin received many commissions to produce larger versions of the works, as shown throughout his timeline on the Musee Rodin website. One of the most popular was The Thinker, originally named The Poet, which is situated at the top of the portal, looking to the figures below. There are theories that this piece was meant to be Dante observing the circles of Hell, looking over his work (Musee Rodin).
The expression of the sculpted man is intense, with a determination to “transcend his suffering through poetry (Musee Rodin). Another of Rodin’s most famous works is a six-man statue in bronze, The Burghers of Calais. Commissioned in 1884, finished in 1886, and dedicated in 1895 (Britannica), this would come to be the most successful of Rodin’s public monuments. Created as part of a deliberate movement to raise morale after the FrancoPrussian War, The Burghers of Calais depict men on the brink of facing their own beheading, sacrificed for the sake of their city (Vincent). To this day, people look to these figures for strength and inspiration in their trying times.
Rodin spent a decade reorienting and rearranging them, modeling separate parts and puzzling them together (Britannica). Although it is true that “his abandonment of the traditional vocabulary of allegorical symbols in favor of individual poses and gestures that reveal character were innovations that brought his work into conflict with accepted formulas for public monuments (Vincent),” this sculpture’s emotion is strongly felt because of Rodin’s attention to expression and human detail. Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel met around the year 1882.
Rodin was deeply moved by her sculpting ability, and Claudel soon became his apprentice (Rodin and Camille Claudel). In a short time, the two artists had begun a stormy love affair. Although for the majority of their years together Claudel professed herself to be a pupil of Rodin’s, he “recognized her as an artist in her own right (Rodin and Camille Claudel). ” Through their time together, Rodin and Claudel whereas the head of the figure of Avarice in Avarice and Lust has been erroneously attributed to her, the heads of The Slave and Laughing Man (c. 885), which were signed by Rodin when they were cast in bronze, were actually modeled by Claudel (Musee Rodin, Rodin and Camille Claudel). ”
Perhaps the most challenging sculptures for these artists to create were their depictions of old age. Both Claudel’s Clotho and Rodin’s She Who Was the Helmet-Maker’s Once Beautiful Wife represent an old woman with knotted muscles and wrinkly skin, yet these artists conquered the anatomical and artistic challenge of making the form aesthetically appealing and interesting to look at (Musee Rodin).
Additionally, these sculptures are a clear representation of how Camille and Auguste influenced one another. Using the same model to work toward the same idea, it is no surprise that the couple produced such similar works. But it also suggests something like equal skill. Working from the same model would not bring similar works without at least incredible skills and similar styles. By 1893, Camille Claudel and Rodin’s lifelong companion Rose Beuret could no longer go along with his double life.
Unwilling to abandon Rose after all of their years together, the romantic relationship between Rodin and Claudel ended rather bitterly. Camille’s masterpiece, The Age of Maturity, can be interpreted as a depiction of this separation, with Beuret pulling Rodin away from Claudel (Musee Rodin). Critics interpreted the piece as the “symbolic representation of Destiny, in which the ageing man is torn away from love, youth, and life (Rodin and Camille Claudel). ” After visiting the works in person, it is difficult to distinguish the differences between the two artists’ sculptures.
It is likely that during his commissions Camille produced many parts for Rodin’s masterpieces, especially the hands and feet, which she was spectacularly skilled at forming (Rodin and Camille Claudel). It would be interesting to see in today’s world which artist would gain fame and recognition in regard to their gender. Regardless, it cannot be denied that these people made an enormous impact on art in their time, and that their work is absolutely influential today.