For those of you who have never met me in person, I'm going to share a little secret: I cry, sometimes in embarrassing, if not inappropriate, situations. More than once, tears have rolled down my cheeks when I've shared a particularly beautiful piece of writing--like Caliban's "The Isle Is Full of Noises" soliloquy in The Tempest--or when some sense-memory overtakes me. I can also cry with and for another person, as well as for myself.
He's at the "gate", so to speak.
That bust, and the statue before it, are studies that became part of Porte d'Enfer by Auguste Rodin. I went to the museum that houses most of his work.
The only problem was, the main collection was closed. So was most of the rest of the museum. To be fair, the Hotel Biron, at 77 rue Varenne, has been in need of repairs. And, as with any museum, ventilation systems and other infrastructure need to be repaired and replaced in order to keep the artist's works from deterioration and other damage.
C'est une injustice! I exclaimed to the guide when she explained the situation. "J'ai venue d'amerique", I told her, to see Le Baiser, Le Penseur and--my favorite objet d' art--Je suis belle.
From the day I first encountered photos of those works in an art history class I took as an undergraduate, Rodin has spoken to me, moved me, in ways that only three or four other artists, in any medium, ever have. For me, seeing the ways he could draw out despair, courage, empathy, isolation, inspiration and so much more--sometimes all in the same work--in such static materials as stone and metal has been a sort of guidebook to the soul. He doesn't merely render, express or depict emotions; he makes his materials a conduit for la force vitale. To me, the only other Western sculptor who did anything like that is Michelangelo.
Sometimes, in museums, I see. Or I might think, or feel, or simply enjoy. When I am in the presence of Rodin's works, in his milieu, I live. You might say it's like at least for me.
Anyway, the museum is apparently building a new wing as they renovate the old space, and are going to exhibit the works in new ways. I hope that the newly-restored museum doesn't sacrifice too much of the intimacy of the old one and become another big building full of glass boxes that hermetically seal the artist's works away from the people, from the world, as too many other museums do.
As the renovations proceed, there is an exhibit of some of the castings Rodin made as studies for his masterworks as photographs taken of them, and him as he made them. Most of the figures you see in his completed works are clothed, but he made nude studies for all of them to get, not only the proportions, but the ways in which they moved and interacted with their environments, before he created the "final product", so to speak.
And the gardens are still open. Even if you aren't a fan of his work, or art generally, it's a great place to unwind--after or before a bike ride in Paris.
After I left the Rodin and had a picnic lunch by the Seine, I rode some more, spent some time in the Musee d'Orsay and rode some more. I'll talk about those later.