(playing the title role of Rodin's exploited student-lover in "Camille Claudel")
dramatically implores, "Rodin! R-r-r-rodin!"
-- rolling her r's and creating movie history.
Years later, Woody Allen set the scene for "Midnight in Paris",
casting former first lady Carla Bruni as a tour guide in Rodin's Garden.
She smoothly corrected know-it-all Paul's misguided take on Rodin's love life.
The cinema seemingly loves a dramatic telling of artistic agony and ecstasy.
And why not?
These creative types are more interesting than the average Joe & Jane.
Sculptor Auguste Rodin has always been misunderstood -- mostly
admired but occasionally condemned, in both life and art.
For me, it was love at first sight.
From the moment I stole my first look, his masterstroke,
The Burghers of Calais, swept me off my feet.
I'm always amazed when people tell me they've been to Paris
but, no, they just didn't have time to visit this classic museum.
That's like eating an ice cream cone without the ice cream.
Please, don't leave the best parts of Paris behind.
Here are just a few reasons to propel Musée Rodin to
the top of your must-see agenda of Paris attractions:
You'll recognize some of the art.
Thank goodness, Mona Lisa isn't the only piece of art in Paris
that will ring a bell in your memory bank.
Everyone knows The Thinker dude.
As travelers, we like to believe we're at least somewhat cultured
so it's nice to flash on art that's unmistakably familiar,
even if it is something you first saw watching Dobie Gillis back in the 60's.
Buy 1 --- Get 2 Free
At the Musée Rodin, (1) you'll get a lesson in art appreciation --- mixed media
that shows off sculpture, paintings and photographs;
As a bonus, (2) you'll be treated to an amazing example of French architecture
in a gorgeous 18th century manor with the sexy name -- Hôtel Biron;
And the frosting on the cake: (3) You'll get a chance to catch a fresh breath
as you wander the sprawling garden in the middle of the city -- roses included.
Art, architecture, peace and fresh air. What a deal!
Location, Location, Location
You're dead center in the middle of one of Paris' most
unabashedly beautiful neighborhoods.
Bring extra (camera) batteries.
Let's see -- you're minutes away from Les Invalides, the Pont Alexandre III,
and some of the best shopping and eating around ---
including three Christian Constant restaurants.
What's not to like?
My personal favorite lives here.
The moment I saw them, I was smitten:
The Burghers of Calais
The piece portrays six well-to-do political leaders as they're marched off
to meet their maker, condemned to death by King Edward III of England in 1347.
The king sought retribution, snatching the lives of the city's top brass
in exchange for saving their vanquished, crippled city
during the One Hundred Years War.
It's a raw work of art, evoking an immediate feeling that conjures up war,
suffering and pain as we contemplate these men, grimly succumbing to fate.
Rodin marched to the beat of his own personal drummer.
When the city of Calais commissioned him to create a bronze of their hero,
Eustache de Saint-Reve (head honcho of the condemned city councilmen),
he bucked the request and paid homage to all six humbled heroes.
The city was not amused, especially since it took many long years to
complete the work, over-budget and overdue.
They wanted a glorified, god-like monument that was typical of its day,
a monument to a great man, perched, in traditional manner, on a pedestal .
It turns out they didn't get what they paid for -- thank goodness.
When you examine the anguished faces and body language of the six men,
barefoot and ragged, marked for sure death, it will stop you in your tracks.
The ravages of war are seen in their gaunt, starved faces.
Yet Rodin somehow captured a different emotion on each individual's face --
rage, fear, surprise, despair, denial, shock, bitterness --
it's all there, just like you would expect in real life.
He positioned his sculpture so the public would stand at eye level
with the men, able to look into the eyes of horror and madness.
It makes me recall the words of a beloved
Steve Winwood song,
"Worlds are turning and we're just hanging on
Facing our fear and standing out there alone
A yearning, and it's real to me
There must be someone who's feeling for me
Things look so bad everywhere
In this world, what is fair."
The legend of the Burghers of Calais resolved itself thanks to the
intervention of the king's sympathetic wife, Queen Philippa.
She begged her spiteful husband to liberate the men,
saving their lives and their dignity.
They returned to Calais as heroes, having bravely
bargained their lives to save the city.
What a party that must have been.
My only wish is that Rodin would have captured
those very different emotions in a followup sculpture so
we'd have a second feast in the museum garden --
elation, joy and yippie ki-yay alongside the pathos of the original.
And for that fantasized work, I'd tag another Steve Winwood song,
"Back in the High Life Again."
"And I'll drink and dance with one hand free
Let the world back into me,
And oh I'll be a sight to see
Back in the High Life again"
It captures a chapter straight out of Dante's Inferno, composed of
some 180 figurines -- truly jaw-dropping.
Once you're inside the mansion, it won't take you long to find
much favored, too, as you'll see by the admirers surrounding it.
Seductive, ravishing, provocative -- this marbled portrayal of passion
is a lover's nightmare of the best of times and the worst of times.
It's yet another reference to Dante's Divine Comedy, capturing the erotic moment
that set the table for death and eternal condemnation in hell.
Rodin's lovers surely inspired the fire out of him, illicit or not.
Camille Claudel's works are front and center, too, as well as the
personal collection of Rodin -- a bonus -- paintings from Van Gogh, Renoir
and Monet adorn the walls, enhancing your exhilarating experience.
He didn't achieve great success until well into his midlife,
having spent nearly twenty years as an ornamental sculptor & decorative bricklayer.
On a trip to Italy, he uncovered his genius after seeing
Michelangelo's sculptures for the first time.
When he returned to France, he developed his skills, honing both his craft
as well as his finance and marketing brain, collaborating
with others to build a solid business.
He was one heck of a salesman, convincing his partners
to change the way sculpture was cast and merchandised.
You'll discover hundreds of flowers, ornamental bushes and delights
along with even more art -- including The Marble Gallery -- as you
wind down and enjoy your surroundings.
Follow the path across the wide lawn as it leads to a large
ornamental pool, continuing on to an ivy covered trellis and even more green.
The perfect place to take a time-out in Paris.
You'll be so glad.
And just like me, as you immerse yourself in the pleasures of Paris,
you, too, will discover what's best about life, love and art.
You'll be back in the High Life again.