I have always had a respect for sculptors and their ability to capture human feeling and thought and artfully etch it into stone, bronze: these being themselves as lifeless and expressionless materials as they come. Beyond being an art on the part of the sculptor, to me, it really does speak of a much deeper gift of these artists to comprehend and empathise with the deepest of human thoughts and feelings – and perhaps that these sculptors also possess a much deeper self awareness and knowledge of themselves than we mere mortals do not possess. I mean, how else is one able to so aptly recognise, capture and reproduce a human emotion or mental state and create it, without a profound self awareness of the same emotion and thought processes within themselves? It is quite an astonishing gift to my mind.
Fewer places capture this more than the museum and gardens dedicated to the work of Auguste Rodin.
Apparently, over his lifetime he produced over 7,000 works of art of which his sculptures have proven to be the more recognisable legacy of his prolific works. He clearly departed from the norms of sculpting in the West that date back to centuries before him – and not surprisingly, he was a conroversial figure in his time and still remains one. I walked away with nothing but a profound respect for Rodin and his capacity to so articulately depict not only the human form but its very condition in the most poignant and powerful of ways.
If I had to pick out a favourite sculpture it would …yes, this sounds cliché … be”The Thinker” and “Le Bourgeois de Calais’. Both well known works. However, nothing could have prepared me for the stunningly powerful artistry of Rodin in these two pieces – and the many others.
The political message of Le Bourgeois de Calais – a sculpture dedicated to self-sacrificing pubic servants could not be more apt for our times. As we face the worst economic crisis in decades, never has self sacrifice been more necessary at all levels of society. And to me, seeing the Rodin sculpture of the Le Bourgeois de Calais was not only powerful in it artistry and the display of Rodin’s emotional depth – but also because it managed, at least in my view, to transcend space and time and deliver a very powerful message for this very day and age.
Would I return to the museum? Yes. Again and again.