CAMILLE CLAUDEL

CAMILLE CLAUDEL is a french female sculptress. She lives her life in an extraordinary and contradictory context in Belle Époque France where the realization of female identity was still very difficult. Despite the various obstacles, the sculptress managed to establish herself by carving out an unprecedented and not small space for action in art - there are over fifty works that document the entire span of her production - despite the existential junctions that strongly influenced her: the problematic relationship with the family, the strong bond with his brother Paul, who converted will become an exponent of the uncompromising Catholicism of the French society of the times, the love and hate story with the sculptor Rodin and finally the mental illness, the twist in itself - as in the statue of the cover image - and internment in an asylum.

The academy Camille attended was mainly dedicated to sculpture, offered women the same opportunities as men and left the pupils great flexibility in the curriculum. Shortly afterwards Camille decided to move to an atelier in Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, where in 1882 Auguste Rodin came to teach. At that time, the master had been fighting for a quarter of a century against the classicist sculpture of the time. After two years under the direction of Rodin, Camille perfectly modeled the human body especially her hands and feet, thus she became one of Rodin's assistants, preparing clay, plaster and armor or modeling the hands and feet of sculptural subjects. Their works in fact in that period are very similar, obviously Rodin used Camille's genius as it was normal at the time to use his assistants. It is also true that we have a large production of Rodin in this period, of Camille almost nothing.
Their well-known love affair, which was born working side by side, leads to fifteen years of a passionate and stormy affair, from which Camille will however emerge exhausted, defeated not only humanly but also as an artist to the point of destroying her own works. Camille ends her relationship with the sculptor after realizing that no marriage would be possible between them - Rodin will always remain attached to Rose Beuret, his constant companion for years that the sculptor will never leave. Most likely, from some sources there is also evidence of an interrupted pregnancy, it seems that this very event has seriously undermined the balance of the young woman. An unhappy love, that for Auguste Rodin, exclusive, tinged with professional jealousies and above all poisoned by the prejudices of society, by the distance and then by the abandonment of Camille by the Claudel family in solitude and in precarious economic conditions.
Camille has always shown that she has a unique talent and genius, she has absolute mastery of movement, think of one of her most famous works La Valse (1895-1905) where movement and stillness are in perfect balance. For the client, the figuration of an embrace was clear and the work even scandalized the inspector of the Ministry of Fine Arts.

Here it is a perfect whole of strength, screwed on itself, pushed by the dynamism of the male figure that wraps the female one tied and held by the dress that descends to the ground. For the artist it is an attempt to grasp life in its movement, in its transformation, in the precarious balance of a tormented bond. What matters is that over time, the artist will not want to depict a single figure, he is not satisfied with the character but wants to tell a story, a complete narrative. A talent, that of Camille, which already leads her to distinguish herself from her peers at the age of 12, took inspiration everywhere for her drawings and clay sculptures from old engravings to anatomical models using her brothers Paul and Louise as models.
Camille had a limp defect and this perhaps led her to seek perfection in art with an impulsive gesture. She was very attached to her father, who was in fact her greatest ally until his death in 1913 - once he died, perhaps the only ally in his life was interned in a mental hospital. Perhaps in Rodin he saw precisely his father, often absent for work: in the Buste de Rodin the master sculptor looks much more than his forty-four years, he looks like an old man with a thick beard, a severe but affectionate father figure.

Camille also had a close bond with her brother Paul, from an early age in fact their great imagination gave them a unique cohesion. Although after his law studies he embarked on a diplomatic career, he devoted himself to art through poetry and dramaturgy, after his conversion to Catholicism in 1886 he became one of the exponents of intransigent Catholicism, that Catholicism that felt public reproach in name of atavistic prejudices for nonconformist women like Camille. Camille's very religious middle-class family reacted to her crises by having her interned in a nursing home for the mentally ill in Montfavet, where she remained for thirty years until her death. According to a journalist of the time, Paul Théodore Vibert, Camille had been arbitrarily interned for persecution psychosis only because her family was ashamed of her and her unconventional behavior.
The story is quite well known today and the French have dedicated two films to it, one in 1988 with Isabelle Adjiani and Gérard Depardieu directed by bruno Nuytten, the other in 2013 with Isabelle Binoche and directed by Bruno Dumont. It was 1913 when her mother and brother Paul sent her to hospital. Camille died in an asylum in 1943, without ever creating works of art again. It is she herself who does not want to be given the materials for sculpting. Yet she still writes very lucid letters to her mother (who will never go to see her), to her brother, to some friends. From these letters Chiara Pasetti freely drew a play entitled Moi, contained in her book, which premiered in Genoa in September with the actress Lisa Galantini in the former asylum of Quarto. The book ends with photographs of many of his works and also some of Rodin's works.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley
    Aug 18, 2021 @ 13:10:24

    Thank you, FQ, for this! I’m ashamed to say I had not heard of Camille Claudel but you have now corrected that! La Valse is extraordinary! 💖

    Reply

    • Fairy Queen
      Aug 18, 2021 @ 13:59:07

      It is a pleasure for me to introduce women who have created so many things. And there are many women who do many things every day, for the family, for others and for the world. We should all value these women, even if they are not famous. 🤗💓

      Reply

  2. Ashley
    Aug 18, 2021 @ 14:07:16

    Indeed you are right. I admire your passionate words and ideas ⚘

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: