05 March 2017

France is finally recognising the talent of the 19th-century sculptor Camille Claudel with the first national museum dedicated to her. It opens next month in Nogent-sur-Seine, 100km south-east of Paris, partly funded with profits generated by the town’s nuclear energy plant. Displays of her sculptures will reflect her significance as an artist, but they also tell a tragic story. Claudel was a studio assistant to Auguste Rodin, the sculptor of The Kiss and The Thinker. He fell in love with her almost immediately, admiring her artistic talent. In a passionate affair, she was his mistress, his model and his muse for 10 years. But their relationship crumbled and she struggled to find recognition as an artist in her own right. Eventually, obsessed with Rodin, she descended into madness. For almost a century, she was largely ignored by art history, overshadowed by her confinement in a mental institution for the last 30 years of her life. She never sculpted again and had virtually no visitors. She died in 1943, aged 78 and was buried in a common grave. Claudel destroyed much of her art, but about 90 works survive. Now the Camille Claudel museum will show about half of them – the world’s biggest collection.

No comments: