Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Merci, Monsieur Rodin

After a couple of somewhat rainy days, the weather forecast indicated today would be a nice low 70s, partly cloudy but with no expected rain. I was eager that once the weather brightened enough, I would walk up to the Musée Rodin and Hôtel des Invalides.

Today was the first day that I felt really at home here, even if I feel simultaneously alienated. My neighborhood in Saint-Germain has many twisting and turning roads and although I like to think that I possess a pretty good sense of direction, I've gotten lost plent of times in my first week here. It's easy to do... you're constantly looking up and marveling over the architecture, the quaint vibe of tiny streets, the way the light casts upon lovely buildings. And when that isn't distracting me, dodging fellow pedestrians has kept me more than distracted on these tiny, very uneven "sidewalks."

But today, I consulted my map and without having to check and re-check it numerous times, I made it to Musée Rodin without missing a street. The queue to get in was rather long but I found the experience well worth the wait. The Musée Rodin not only houses Rodin's work, but the Hôtel Biron is where Rodin worked and entertained, renting out several rooms on the ground floor. As I sat inside and looked at his work, I felt so priviledged... to be sitting where he worked and spent so much time... where he created! I've long marveled over sculpture and stone carvings but have never really been moved by sculpture like I was today by Rodin's work. Maybe because I'm here in Paris viewing it from what was his studio. Maybe because my appreciation of art is evolving.

Prior to my visit to the Musée Rodin, I had read that when looking at Rodin's most famous piece, "The Thinker," to look closely at how the figure's toes are clenched and how the figure is almost biting his hand - Rodin showing the effort that lies behind creativity. When I read this in my guidebook, I didn't give it much thought. But standing in Rodin's garden, looking up at the real Thinker, I felt immense gratitude for Rodin for sculpting what so many of us feel.

I've come to realize that wisdom does only so much. Reminders are constantly needed. After viewing "The Thinker" and walking around the gardens, I entered Hôtel Biron and in looking at all of Rodin's various works on display, I was reminded of an excerpt by Eric Maisel in "A Writer's Paris." Maisel talks about how so many of us writers/artists wait and wait for that "A" work to emerge and until we know that we've got that "A" novel ready, we don't write anything else. And that's absurd. We have to write the "B" and "C" works to get to that "A" piece. We just have to write. Imagine if Rodin had waited and waited for "The Thinker" or "The Gates of Hell." Instead he sculpted many things. And while I so appreciate the splendor of his better known works, I find myself more intrigued by some of his lesser known pieces and am thus further grateful that he didn't just produce one or two "A" pieces.

I didn't get lost on the way home tonight, either. And it did not rain on me at all today, nor did I inflict any new blisters upon my feet. I stopped in the nearby Marché St-Germain and purchased some fresh fruit and decided to get some cannelloni from the Italian food vendor. He was young and Italian, an eager spark in his eye. He handed me my food and we exchanged pleasant au revoirs and I was happily on my way "home" to my Paris apartment to write that "B" or "C" piece with absolute enthusiasm.

*The first image is Rodin's "The Gates of Hell" which depicts a scene from Dante's "The Inferno." The second is Rodin's very famous, "The Thinker." The third sculpture I failed to write the name down for but is that perfect example of what might be regarded as an easily forgotten "B" piece. But despite even my own failure to remember the name of this sculpture, this piece moved me more than most of his other pieces. And that is a reminder in the most remarkable form!


carra said...

Yes those "B's" and "C's" and even "D's" are important, I should have you to remind me that every day. I always appreciated the less famous works of the artists i.e. Picasso's Kitchen is the most beautiful thing he ever painted, the same with many books that never been recognized. I can see you are having a good time, it gives me so much joy. Please keep us updated.

Randal Graves said...

Think of Beethoven's Eroica - I believe that's the piece my brain is fixated on - how some of the stuff in the final movement was transformed from earlier, simpler works.

Although getting started, and finishing, that first piece is a pain in the ass, no?

Richard said...

Motivation, inspiration, the desire to create out of love is an elusive thing.

I try to hold on to those fleeting memories when I felt inspired or moved. It is remarkably hard, so many distractions fill our day and consume our psychic energy, that at the end of the day we plop down in front of the TV, surfing from one soulless show to another as we soullessly munch on soulless snacks.

I am glad you are in a receptive mood. I hope you can somehow capture and sustain yourself from it and avoid being pulled back into a life of sameness.

Je ne regrette rien said...

Very true ideas re: the b's and c's. Myself, I've still got a few d's and f's to get out! smile. Did you enjoy the Camille Claudel room? I really like these museés that present the artists home ... I enjoy wandering around, picturing the artist in the environs, puttering away.

I think you should also make your way here, to the Jacquemart-Andre. Plan to have lunch there, it is in a lovely dining room in the house. Rent the headphone thingy and listen to the tales of this interesting couple and how they acquired the pieces throughout the home. A nice way to spend the afternoon.

chicamericaine said...

Hmm, it seems that perhaps the art of imperfection is a recurring theme of your sejour. Embrace it!