the gorgon’s muse: claudel and rodin

concrete and aluminium artwork

Camille Claudel and August Rodin had a tempestuous affair. Their mutual admiration for each other was as intense as was their physical attraction. Both were extraordinary sculptors in their own right and yet history tends to recall one over the other. Unfortunately an ardent and gifted female artist was destined to struggle for credibility in the late 1800s.  

Camille’s work was sensual and passionate. Rodin’s was groundbreaking and powerful. Together, they were untouchable. Rodin admired Camille’s work deeply and he did a series of busts that were inspired by one of her creations.  Unfortunately, despite referring to Camille as his muse, he would not leave his long term partner Rose for her. Wilful and independent, Camille eventually abandoned him to strike out on her own.  Alas, she was unable to achieve the acknowledgement she deserved, and by the time she was 48 had succumbed to poverty and fits of paranoia. She was institutionalised and remained in an asylum until she died 30 years later. From the moment she was confined, she ceased to produce anything creative, and despite all attempts by staff, abandoned her creative identity.

It could be argued that Rodin had frozen his beloved muse. Not only had he overshadowed her professionally, his refusal to marry her caused great emotional distress.  Camille’s piece ‘Perseus and the Gorgon’ epitomises her feelings of frustration and distress, as the triumphant Perseus holds forth the slain gorgon’s head over his shoulder. The gorgon has Camille’s features.  

This is my homage to Camille Claudel. I am bringing her back to life.

To read more about the fascinating lives of the people I admire, visit my narrative art page.

Tesla Coil, Past | Present | Future and The Persistence of Pain are other artworks that use a similar fusion of materials.

Camille was cast from coloured concrete, making allowance for Rodin’s aluminium snakes to be incorporated. Once cast, Rodin was fine-tuned so he slotted in and acid etched and polished before being masked again, sanded back and coloured with acrylic ink. The two sections were then assembled and enamel brushwork incorporated. Camille’s eye is mirror.

Concrete and aluminium 72cm x 72cm  |  5.7kg
Timber baton across back with wire string. No frame required.
Available for viewing.

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