A to Z Abroad: Rodin’s Treasures

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Since 1919, the Rodin Museum has preserved and displayed the prized works of Auguste Rodin. Housed in Rodin’s former workshop, the museum harbors a collection of 6,600 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs and 7,000 art objects.

Among the most famous of Rodin’s sculptures is The Kiss. I must have stood in front of this piece for far longer than what would be considered polite in a museum. There is something ethereal, soulful, and breathtakingly human about the emotional embrace depicted. I’ve seen images of this sculpture many times, but seeing it in person is something else entirely.  Rodin somehow made marble express what it feels like to be in love.

The Kiss at the Rodin Museum
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

Interestingly, the museum displays several bronze sculptures outside in an elaborate garden of fountains, flowers, and manicured hedges. A lovely break from an enclosed space, the garden offers a breath of fresh air while viewing extraordinary works of art.

Sitting on a tall pillar is one of Rodin’s masterpieces, The Thinker. This sculpture has been recast and reproduced multiple times, but the piece on display in the garden is the original. I never expected to find such a famous work of art outside, but I suppose it makes sense as the garden is often a place of contemplation.

The Thinker at the Rodin Museum
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

Throughout the gardens, bronze sculptures dot the landscape and adorn fountains and ponds. A day could easily be spent among the green and graceful lines of Rodin’s aesthetic.

Garden green at the Rodin Museum
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

From one garden vantage point, the Eiffel Tower pokes through the skyline!

Garden view of the Eiffel Tower
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

The Rodin Museum may be small, but it’s treasures are immeasurable. Art lovers and those who could never pass up an afternoon surrounded by beauty are sure to enjoy this Parisian haven.

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This is my 500th post! Yay!

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Part of the A to Z Challenge!

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c.b.w. 2013

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48 thoughts on “A to Z Abroad: Rodin’s Treasures

    • Thanks! I do go a little crazy with my camera when I travel, though I am careful not to live through the lens. It seems my inner photographer loves to come out and play when I am somewhere interesting. 🙂

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  1. To us, in the early 21c, ‘The Kiss’ is a piece highly charged with sexual politics, and one which seems now to have layer upon layer of meaning.

    The couple that embrace do not appear as equals, if we consider their physicality. The man is muscular and powerful, the woman is slight and vulnerable. He bends over her, his almost disproportionally large right hand resting on her as a gesture of protection rather than eroticism. Her position is almost foetal – “Baby me!” she seems to be saying, when all the while hers is the erotic, the self-centred, the possessive, the active role in the tableau, as her left arm captures the man round the neck and holds fast. She is almost desperate, trying to provoke a reaction in him.

    We can’t see their faces, because their closeness, the downward bend of his head, the upward sweep of her arm, all obscure them. And yet it is in faces that we most often try to read character.

    The title of this piece is not ‘Les Amants’ or ‘L’ Amour’, but ‘Le Baiser’. Titles tell us much about a work of art and (unless the title sets out deliberately to deceive) direct us to stop and consider what we are looking at. In colloquial French, the verb ‘baiser’ and its corresponding noun have nuances beyond merely kissing; the plea ‘Baise moi’ invites more than the meeting of lips and insinuates that one’s whole body is on offer.

    So no, I do not believe that Rodin is expressing what it’s like to be in love. He is showing us the raw act of kissing. The meaning of the kiss in action may include love, but it is much more complex than that. Every emotion and every physical reaction is contained in this sculpture, including the possibility that the two actors in the portrayal are totally at cross purposes to one another, seek different things, are almost at war with one another over their expectations. What is more, they are frozen like this for all eternity – a kiss might almost be hell.

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    • Part of what I find fascinating about art is how it changes meaning over time and from person to person. I learned all about the history of the piece and why Rodin created it long before I saw it in person and I expected to view it much the same way you described above. However, when I stood before, my experience was quite different. Perhaps I am the product of my era or I am simply too optimistic for my own good. Either way, the emotion of love and the sense of intense physical attraction is what dominated my reaction to this sculpture. In this respect, my human emotions outweighed my logic and education! 🙂

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      • I wouldn’t say my judgment of the sculpture is entirely based in logic. I believe in responding to a work of art on all levels, and my emotions are an important part of that. Which is why I guess I can see/feel these tensions in the work.

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  2. Great post, I love Rodins work as well. I was at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia a few months ago and shot so many photos of The Kiss that it felt like I was doing something unseemly, as if I were photographing two live people and intruding on their privacy. The sculpture has such an amazing energy.

    Congrats on 500 posts! Impressive!

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  3. Sherrey Meyer

    C.B., congrats on your 500th post! And on such a transportive piece on August Rodin and the Rodin museum. Once again, lovely photos.

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  4. Congratulations on your 500th post! And – as always – thanks for taking me on a virtual vacation. 🙂 I love the comments above about interpreting art and how that interpretation can change over time. Nice post.

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  5. I saw The Kiss when I was in Europe, but am sure I saw it in not in Paris at the Rodin, but in Budapest as part of a travelling show…and I think it was during my first visit in 1999. I know what you mean about seeing these sculptures in ‘real life’ – that was one of the things that really amazed me on my first visit to Budapest – the sculptures (and the architecture) – not that I’d never seen sculptures and architecture before, rather it was ‘the presence’ of this art work. Here on the west coat of Canada, the totem poles have the presence – and the stories they carry are amazing. It’s a different thing all together.

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    • The more I travel, the more drawn I am to art. It really does give a place deeper meaning and atmosphere. It tells the story of the people who live there and gives perspective on how they think. I find it fascinating and enlightening. 🙂

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  6. I am starting out on my reading backlog CB and really enjoyed this post -I’ve loved the Kiss since I fell in love as a teenager. We haven’t had time to visit the Rodin Museum on the brief flits through Paris that we’ve had, but it’s on my list for next time!

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