Saturday I went with my family to the Detroit Institute of Art to see "Camille Claudel and Rodin: Fateful Encounter". The sculpture and arrangements were really beautiful, and the story was well-told. I definitely enjoyed it! Worth the trip. (Local and semi-local folks note: this is the exhibit's only US stop, through February 5th!)
Especially cool since my dad discovered, to our collective delight, that his DIA membership is still valid until March -- so we all four got in for free. Perfect!
Sis and I saw La Musee Rodin when we were in Paris back in May. This was a smaller exhibit than that, of course, but it was captivating in a very different way. More than just showcasing his art, it took us inside the story of the tumultuous relationship between him and his assistant, Camille Claudel. "Among the world's greatest love affairs, theirs is the only one carved in stone."
She was only 17 when she started working in his studio, while he was 41. They fell in love, but he never stopped living with his other lover, Rose Beuret. They were both amazingly talented sculptures, and you can see how their styles overlapped and shared ideas during their time together. Their works incorporate one another's features time and again, and there are some beautiful expressions of love and passion in each artist's creations during that time.
But their relationship was doomed to failure. Despite his professed love, Rodin never let go of his other mistress. His career, slow at the beginning, began to skyrocket -- while Claudel's career began to fall apart despite its very prodigious beginning. Critics accused her of simply imitating Rodin's style and stealing his work, though this was completely untrue. Feeling betrayed, Claudel gradually became more and more paranoid and lost. After they broke up, she descended into some sort of madness and was institutionalized for the last 30 years of her life.
I have to wonder what that must have been like: locked up without her art. She didn't (couldn't?) sculpt; she gave up that passion that had consumed her life. I don't know if she was not allowed to pursue art in the institution, or if she just chose to stop, but it seems like such a tragic end to an artist's career. (The image pictured here is one of her works, Sakountala.)
"The only ugliness in art is that which has no character." - Rodin