Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Comment on Clodion vs Rodin with links

My last comment on the last post lost its links so here it is again!

I have not re-read Cindy’s essay but concentrated here on your comment Chris.
Emotion illustrated; emotion engendered, I understand.

One point that I want to clear up in my own mind is your use of literary.
There are for me two ways I can interpret that word.

One – illustrating a person or subject from a written source such as a story or historical figure.
And Two – a ‘style’ of artistic expression.

The first I understand the second I do not.

For example let us take Eve here. (I have a beautiful picture of Eve which I have mislaid but when I find it I will add it to my 100 top). She is in a very strange and rather awkward stance, in fact not a very natural position and not dissimilar to your Adam here. If I was to be asked what emotion they were feeling, I would go for the feeling ones gets when in disgraced but only in retrospect because I know the story having read the Bible. If I hadn’t then may be I would have said that Eve was cold (as in ‘La Frileuse’) and that Adam was about to throw the discus or perhaps on the run up to bowl (as in Cricket).

Now this may be heresy, or frivolity, or mockery, or you may consider me a Sassenach or just plain dumb, but when I actually look at the surfaces of Rodins’ work and try and understand the relationship with the surrounding space I become even more at a loss, the fog descends around me.

When I look at Rodin I see a departure from his immediate predecessors and contemporaries. What he lacks in anatomical accuracy he gains in expressive vitality and freshness. He employs the viewer’s natural ability to ‘fill in’ and makes it ‘work’ without loosing credibility. For me some of his poses are too ‘natural’ to capture real emotion (The Kiss) and others are just awkward and uncomfortable. But he is clever; I love this but this is even better and this is quite brilliant.

Nevertheless, I accept that Rodin was an important creator of fine sculpture and deserves his place in the history books and museums, I could even live with one or two of his works (this one for instance) but I do not get a feeling of much joy from him in fact quite the opposite. ‘The Gates Of Hell’ is just too successful! He was a great deal better at the female form that Michelangelo!

It is joy that I get from Clodion. The terra cotta texture of his ‘flesh’, the tickling of the ‘male gaze’ (as Amanda puts it) in his subject matter, the complexity of his decoration in the fashion of his time and the amazing success technically of an often very complex group adds up to fantastic works of real Art.

But I wonder if his work is profound? Does it need to be?

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Blogger chris miller said...

I'll try to come up with a more thoughtful response -- but right now I'm just basking in the Rodins you've been showing.

I like what that link had to say about his Adam: "inner anguish and riveted concentration of a powerful but immobilized being."

But - frankly - I never even think about Adam when I see that sculpture --I'm just in awe at the modeling.

BTW - have you ever seen a free standing sculpture of Adam or Eve in a church? Biblical characters though they are -- when made to stand on their own they become secular.

My favorites being those of Antonio Rizzo from the Ducal Palace in Venice.

As Iian noted -- sculpture made before 1792 was a bit more up-beat.

2:08 pm  

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