Thursday, May 15, 2008

Isadora Duncan’s missed opportunity.

More in common with Clodion than Michelangelo? (An earlyish work, La Lorraine 1872)
One of my favourites of his, is this emotionally charged work at a time when his relationship with Claudel dies.

Chris is not alone, millions of people both great and small stand in awe of Rodin. Indeed I have met few people who do not revere his work.

There are lots of wonderful stories about him a couple of which I will borrow here.

Martin Gayford reported this in the Telegraph review 18 months ago.

The dancer Isadora Duncan recalled an encounter with Auguste Rodin. She visited the Sculptors studio, where, she said, “He showed his works with simplicity of the very great. Sometimes he murmured the names of his statues, but one felt that names meant little to him. He ran his hands over them and caressed them.” By and by, he took “a small quantity of clay” and pressed it in his hands. Breathing hard, in “a few moments”, Rodin had made “a woman’s breast that palpitated beneath his fingers”. Next, they jumped in a cab and went to Duncan’s studio, where she demonstrated a new dance wearing her customary Grecian tunic. At this point, the artist seemed to lose sight of the distinction between statue and woman. Soon, Duncan was given the same treatment as his works of art.

“He gazed at me with lowered lids, his eyes blazing, and then, with the same expression that he had before his works, he came towards me. He ran his hands over my neck, breast, stroked my arms and ran his hands over my hip, my bare legs and feet. He began to knead my whole body as if it were clay.” She extricated herself, to her later regret, and sent him away “bewildered”. Many others did not…….as Ruth Butler puts it, genius was “the ultimate aphrodisiac”……he was besieged by young women…..

(Gayford’s article is well worth reading in full!)

Now some would suggest that he was just an old lecher…but….the other story I enjoyed was this one from Irene Korn’s book Auguste Rodin Master of sculpture. ISBN 1-85501-887-x

In his later years, Rodin was often accused of being obsessed with women and with six. (intended typo). The British painter William Rothenstein recalls a conversation with Rodin in his 1931 book Men and Memories:

“During a walk Rodin embarrassed me by remarking: people say I think too much about women.” I was going to answer with conventional sympathy, “but how absurd!” when after a moment’s reflection, added, “Yet, after all, what is there more important to think about?”

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