Evoking The Afternoon of A Faun

“Nijinsky has never been so remarkable as in his latest role. No more jumps – nothing but half-conscious animal gestures and poses. He lies down, leans on his elbow, walks with bent knees, draws himself up, advancing and retreating, some-times slowly, sometimes with jerky angular movements. His eyes flicker, he stretches his arms, he opens his hands out flat, the fingers together, and as he turns away his head he continues to express his desire with a deliberate awkwardness that seems natural. Form and meaning are indissolubly wedded in his body, which is totally expressive of the mind within… His beauty is that of antique frescoes and sculptures: he is the ideal model, whom one longs to draw and sculpt.”

Auguste Rodin

 

Programme illustration by Léon Bakst for the ballet

 

The ballet L’Après-midi d’un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun)was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes and first performed in the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on 29 May 1912. On the opening night the ballet was met with a mixture of applause and booing, and again it was repeated. Now the audience applauded, and Auguste Rodin in the audience stood up to cheer.

Nijinsky danced the main part himself. As its score it used the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy. Both the music and the ballet were inspired by the poem L’Après-midi d’un faune by Stéphane Mallarmé. The painter Odilon Redon, friend of Mallarmé, suggested how much the poet would have approved, “more than anyone, he would have appreciated this wonderful evocation of his thoughts.”

 

 

The costumes and sets were designed by the painter Léon BakstL’Après-midi d’un Faune is considered one of the first modern ballets and proved to be as controversial as Nijinsky’s Jeux (1913) and Le Sacre du printemps (1913).

The style of the ballet, in which a young faun meets several nymphs, flirts with them and chases them, was deliberately archaic. In the original scenography designed by Léon Bakst, the dancers were presented as part of a large tableau, a staging reminiscent of an ancient Greek vase painting. They often moved across the stage in profile as if on a bas relief. The ballet was presented in bare feet and rejected classical formalism. The work had an overtly erotic subtext beneath its façade of Greek antiquity, ending with a scene of graphic sexual desire.

The ballet was developed as a possible new production for the Ballets Russes founded by Sergei Diaghilev. Most of the dances performed by the company were choreographed by Michel Fokine, who had worked as a choreographer with the Imperial Russian Ballet, from which all the different specialists for the new ballet company had come. Initially the Ballet Russes took advantage of the 3 months summer break, when the Imperial ballet closed and its staff were free to do other things, to stage ballet and opera in Paris. Diaghilev was looking around for an alternative to the style which Fokine customarily delivered and decided to allow his senior male dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky, to try his hand at choreography.

 

Menelaus intending to strike Helen is struck by her beauty instead. Louvre museum, Campana collection acquired 1861

 

The original idea was developed by Diaghilev, Nijinsky and Bakst and was inspired by the artwork on ancient Greek vases and Egyptian and Assyrian frescoes which they viewed in the Louvre museum. Bakst had already worked with Vsevolod Meyerhold, an innovative theatre producer and director who had introduced concepts like two-dimensionality, stylized postures, a narrow stage, pauses and pacing to emphasise significant moments, into his productions. Ninjinsky’s aim was to reproduce the stylised look of the ancient artworks on the stage. In his portrayal of the faun, Nijinsky managed to reproduce exactly the figure of a satyr shown on Greek vases in the Louvre. Such concepts appear transferred to ballet.

Jean Cocteau helped to explain the Mallarmé poem (Nijinsky spoke little French) and with developing a scenario for the ballet. The music by Debussy already existed in a fully orchestrated form. After the summer season in Paris, Nijinsky returned to St Petersburg for the new Russian season and there started to work on the choreography with the help of his sister, Bronislava Nijinska, who was herself a senior dancer and who later choreographed her own ballets for Ballets Russes. Nijinsky was much excited about the project.

 

Cartoon by Daniel de Losques published in Le Figaro, 30 May 1912

 

Nijinsky as the Faun, illustrations by George Barbier, 1913

 

Baron de Meyer  published a book of photographs of the ballet

 

The nymph dance in the dream sequence of the film Sunnyside (Charlie Chaplin, 1919) has been recognized as being a tribute to the ballet

 

A pastiche of the ballet (choreographed by the then leader of the Royal Ballet, Wayne Eagling, a friend of Mercury who had helped him before with the choreography of the Bohemian Rhapsody) forms part of the music video for Queen’s single I Want to Break Free (David Mallet, 1984). Freddie Mercury dances the role of the faun, with dancers from the Royal Ballet also performing, including Jeremy Sheffield. Mercury shaved his trademark moustache to portray Vaslav Nijinsky as a faun in the ballet L’après-midi d’un faune.

 

Queen’s video can be seen on The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

Advertisements

Dialogue Between Rodin and Mapplethorpe

In the exhibition, Mapplethorpe – Rodin the Museé Rodin brought together (in April 2014) the work of two artists – the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the sculptor Auguste Rodin. It presented 50 sculptures by Rodin and a collection of 102 photographs, revealing similarities in these two artists’ enduring themes and subjects. Mapplethorpe sought the perfect, sculptural form in his photography, whilst Rodin captured movement and accident in his work.

One of the curators, Judith Benhamou-Huet, commented:

‘This exhibition establishes an imaginary dialogue between Rodin and Mapplethorpe.

Mapplethorpe never made any reference to Auguste Rodin, but from 1979 – a period in which he uses a neo-classical vocabulary – his aim is obviously to create sculptures in photography. Through using the collection of the Rodin museum, myself and the other curators, Hélène Pinet and Hélène Marraud, found pieces where the photographer and the sculptor explore the same ideas.

They focus on detail, they use drapery to emphasize the drama of the shapes, and they place the models in special positions to emphasize the movement or sculptural aspect of their bodies.’

 

Lisa Lyon, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1982 / Torse fémenin assis sans tête dit du Victoria and Albert Museum (1910-14), Auguste Rodin

 

Javier, Robert Mapplethorpe, (date unknown)/ Buste de Hélène de Nostiz, Auguste Rodin, 1902

 

Orchid, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985/ Iris, messagère des dieux, Auguste Rodin, 1891-93

 

Feet, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1982/ Pied Gauche,  Auguste Rodin, date unknown

 

Lucinda Childs, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985/ Assemblage: deux mains gauches, Auguste Rodin, (date unknown)

 

Bill T. Jones, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985/ Génie funéraire, c. 1889

 

Michael Reed, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1987/ L´Homme qui marche, Auguste Rodin, c. 1899

 

Robert Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1983/ Tête de la Luxure,Auguste Rodin, 1907

 

Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1984/ Tête de la doleur, Auguste Rodin, 1901-02

 

Source: Apollo Magazine

Monument to Balzac

Photograph by Edward Steichen, 1911

 

Monument to Balzac is a sculpture by Auguste Rodin in memory of the French novelist Honoré de Balzac. According to Rodin, the sculpture aims to portray the writer’s persona rather than a physical likeness. The work was commissioned in 1891 by the Société des Gens de Lettres, a full-size plaster model was displayed in 1898 at a Salon in Champ de Mars. After coming under criticism the model was rejected by the société and Rodin moved it to his home in Meudon. On July 2, 1939 (22 years after the sculptor’s death) the model was cast in bronze for the first time and placed on the Boulevard du Montparnasse at the intersection with Boulevard Raspail.

The Société des Gens de Lettres (Paris, France) considered four different artists for the sculptural work before it was given to Rodin. The first was French neoclassical artist Henri Chapu, however, Chapu died in 1891 before the work could be finalized. Marquet de Vasselot was the next artist considered for the sculpture and provided a bust of the writer for the Societé. At the same time artists Millet and Coutan also applied for the commission.

Rodin was not initially considered for the work because at that point in time, around 1885, his career had not become as prominent. After the death of Chapu, the recently elected president of the Societé, Émile Zola strongly supported Rodin for the job and, so, the artist submitted a proposal to have a completed three-meter statue of the French novelist within an eighteen-month period which was approved.

The commission was in response to the elevated importance of Honoré de Balzac after his death. Balzac was one of the founders of the Societé as well as the second president of the organization. Upon his death in 1850 interest in creating a statue to commemorate the writer quickly developed under the leadership of Alexandre Dumas, père.

In 1894, the Societé threatened to step in legally with the commission, turn the job over to artist Alexandre Falguière and take away Rodin’s payment. Yet Rodin continued to ask for extensions on time making over fifty studies and continuously distanced himself from a true physical portrayal, tending towards a more psychological representation. The artist became infatuated with capturing the essence of the author’s strength. In a message to writer Charles Chincholle in May, 1898, Rodin explained his artistic pursuit:

“The only thing I realize today is that the neck is too strong. I thought I had to enlarge it because according to me, modern sculpture must exaggerate the forms form the moral point of view. Through the exaggerated neck I wanted to represent strength I realize that the execution exceeded the idea.”

Finally in 1898, Rodin presented a plaster study of the Balzac statue in the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. The sculpture was not received well by the critics; Rodin took the negativity as a personal attack. Many disliked the grotesque stature of the figure while others criticized the work to be very similar to that of the Italian impressionist Medardo Rosso. As well, reports surfaced before the unveiling of the sculpture regarding anticipated dismay over the final outcome of the artwork. The Société des Gens de Lettres decided to disregard the commission to Rodin and not accept the sculpture.

Regardless of rejection from his commissionaires, contemporaries such as Paul Cézanne, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Claude Monet supported Rodin in his point of view. A backlash against the rejection along with a petition signed by supporters in the artistic community proceeded, yet in the end, Rodin decidedly declined any bids for the work and placed the plaster artwork in his home at Meudon.

Exposed to The Light

The Age of Bronze, Eugène Druet, Circa 1898

 

Serendipity can sometimes play a major role in artistic creation. Such was the case in this photograph of The Age of Bronze , taken by Eugène Druet in 1898.

One day, the photographer came across an effect now known as “solarization”. If a chlorobromide paper is exposed to the light while it is being developed in the darkroom (which may happen when the door is inadvertently opened), parts of the image will come out negative. As a result of this effect, The Age of Bronze seems to be weightless here. Druet, encouraged by Rodin, adopted and attempted to master the process by producing a dozen or so variations, each one with a different degree of solarization.

In the 20th century, solarization would be used as a technique and a means of photographic expression by artists such as Man Ray,Edward Steichen and Maurice Tabard.

To Quash False Accusations

L’Âge d’Airain, Auguste Rodin, modeled 1876

 

“I have unbounded admiration for the nude. I worship it,” Auguste Rodin used to say. He sought out models with strong, vigorous bodies, whether they were professional or not. Auguste Neyt, a muscular telegraphist, who remained friends with the sculptor after posing for The Age of Bronze, was an amateur. At the time, Rodin was struggling to be recognized as an artist in his own right and was working relentlessly to produce a great piece of sculpture.

Shown at the Salon des Artistes Belges, in Brussels, in 1877, the statue met with unanimous acclaim, although one art critic suspected Rodin of having used a life cast to make it. This charge benefited Rodin though, because people were so eager to see this for themselves.

 

Photograph by Gaudenzio Marconi

 

Nevertheless, to quash this accusation, a few months later, Rodin turned for help to Gaudenzio Marconi, a prolific photographer of nudes. Intending to present the work again, this time at the Salon des Artistes Français, Paris, he commissioned Marconi to take photographs, from the front and back, of August Neyt naked, in the pose of The Age of Bronze . These efforts were, however, all in vain. The jury never even looked at the photographs.

Critics of the period were also dismayed by the subject, for Rodin not only abandoned all of the elaborate repertory of symbols with which academic sculptors habitually equipped their works, but also had stripped the figure of the spear originally carried in his left hand, relying on the expressiveness of the figure itself to convey its meaning. In addition, he changed the title from The Vanquished (Le Vaincu), possibly an allusion to the suffering and demoralization of his countrymen during the Franco-Prussian War, to the classical, but more ambiguous, The Age of Bronze (L’Âge d’Airain). Later the work acquired still other new titles, by instance, Man Awakening to Nature. The Metropolitan Museum has retained the title by which the bronze was known at the time of its purchase from Rodin.

Torso of an Archaic Apollo

Male torso, C. 480-470 BC.. Broken in antiquity, the piece was repaired in the second century BC and used to decorate a Roman theater at Miletus, where it was discovered. (possible inspiration for Rilke’s Poem)

 
 

ARCHÄISCHER TORSO APOLLOS

“Wir kannten nicht sein unerhörtes Haupt,
darin die Augenäpfel reiften. Aber
sein Torso glüht noch wie ein Kandelaber,
in dem sein Schauen, nur zurückgeschraubt,
sich hält und glänzt. Sonst könnte nicht der Bug
der Brust dich blenden, und im leisen Drehen
der Lenden könnte nicht ein Lächeln gehen
zu jener Mitte, die die Zeugung trug.

Sonst stünde dieser Stein entstellt und kurz
unter der Schultern durchsichtigem Sturz
und flimmerte nicht so wie Raubtierfelle

und bräche nicht aus allen seinen Rändern
aus wie ein Stern: denn da ist keine Stelle,
die dich nicht sieht. Du mußt dein Leben ändern.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Neue Gedichte (New Poems)

1907

 
 

_________________________________

 
 

“Never will we know his fabulous head
where the eyes’ apples slowly ripened. Yet
his torso glows: a candelabrum set
before his gaze which is pushed back and hid,
restrained and shining. Else the curving breast
could not thus blind you, nor through the soft turn
of the loins could this smile easily have passed
into the bright groins where the genitals burned.

Else stood this stone a fragment and defaced,
with lucent body from the shoulders falling,
too short, not gleaming like a lion’s fell;

nor would this star have shaken the shackles off,
bursting with light, until there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.”

Translated by C. F. MacIntyre

 
 

New Poems is a two-part collection of poems written by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). The first volume, dedicated to Elisabeth and Karl von der Heydt was composed from 1902 to 1907 and was published in the same year by Insel Verlag in Leipzig. The second volume (New Poems: The Other Part), dedicated to Auguste Rodin, was completed in 1908 and published by the same publisher.

 
 

To see more information related to this subject, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook Page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

The Finesse of The Individual Mark

“One could say that any child could make a drawing like Twombly only in the sense that any fool with a hammer could fragment sculptures as Rodin did, or any house painter could spatter paint as well as Pollock. In none of these cases would it be true. In each case the art lies not so much in the finesse of the individual mark, but in the orchestration of a previously uncodified set of personal “rules” about where to act and where not, how far to go and when to stop, in such a way as the cumulative courtship of seeming chaos defines an original, hybrid kind of order, which in turn illuminates a complex sense of human experience not voiced or left marginal in previous art.”

Kirk Varnedoe

 

Cyrus Alessandro Twombly and his pet posing in front of a large-scale painting by Cy Twombly. Photo: Horst P. Horst, 1966

Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice, Auguste Rodin, modeled probably before 1887, carved 1893

 

This mythological subject was very popular in Auguste Rodin‘s times. The sculptor, inspired by the opera Orfeo ed Euridice from Christoph Willibald Gluck from 1762 that was performed in Paris by the end of the 19th Century again, turned to this motif in the 1880’s. Re-using the body of Paolo Malatesta (best known for the story of his affair with Francesca da Polenta, portrayed by Dante Alighieri in a famous episode of his Inferno ) as featured in Fugit Amor (Fugitive Love), he had by 1887 created Orpheus’s torso and head.

According to Georges Grappe, the first group was composed in 1892, although some contemporaries dated it 1894 – probably mixing it up with Orpheus and Eurydice Leaving Hell, executed in marble in 1893 for the American collector Charles T. Yerkes. This latter version, purchased by Thomas P. Ryan on 22 January 1910 and presented to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, shows a walking Orpheus with his left hand before his eyes, followed by Eurydice.

 

 

The now isolated male figure, named Orpheus Imploring the Gods, shows the singer in the moment he realizes that he will never see his lover again. The brutally severed hand of Euridyce on the harp, remnant of the former group constellation, underlines the tragedy of this situation.

 

 

In Orpheus and the Furies, the rather coincidental juxtaposition of the Kneeling Fauness and The Martyr, as seen in the tympanum of  The Gates of Hell – is employed again by Rodin to present the last stage of Orpheus’s fruitless quest. Changing the gender of the kneeling figure, he shows a rather frail Orpheus cracking under the weight of the raging Maenads.

Hôtel Biron

Auguste Rodin photographed on the steps of the Hôtel Biron, Paris

First opened to the public on 4 August 1919, the Musée Rodin was housed in a mansion, formerly called the Hôtel Peyrenc de Moras. Now known as the Hôtel Biron, it was built in the Rue de Varenne, Paris, between 1727 and 1732.

 
 

Elevation of the façade of Mrs. De Moras’s mansion on the garden side

 
 

 L’Hôtel Biron, côté jardin, Charles Berthelomier, circa 1910
 

 

The estate was put up for sale and while awaiting a buyer, tenants were allowed to occupy the Hôtel Biron from 1905. Among them were several artists, Jean Cocteau (1889-1963),  Henri Matisse, the dancer Isadora Duncan and the sculptress Clara Westhoff (1878-1954), future wife of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1921), who first told Auguste Rodin about the estate. In 1908, the sculptor thus rented four south-facing, ground-floor rooms opening onto the terrace, to use as his studios. The garden that had run wild probably made a strong impression on Rodin, encouraging him to place some of his works and part of his collection of antiques amidst its greenery. From 1911 onwards, he occupied the entire building.

Listed as a historical monument in 1926, the Hôtel Biron and its grounds have since undergone major renovation and restoration schemes, to better assert their role as a museum.

 

Even When We Don’t Reach It

L’Homme qui marche (The Walking Man), Auguste Rodin, 1907

Having eliminated all anecdotal details to focus on the sensation of movement, Rodin produced an unprecedented and powerfully expressive interpretation of it, reiterating the force that had so captivated him when standing before incomplete antique statues and Michelangelo’s unfinished works.

 

SPAZIERGANG

“Schon ist mein Blick am Hügel, dem besonnten,

dem Wege, den ich kaum begann, voran.

So fasst uns das, was wir nicht fassen konnten,

voller Erscheinung, aus der Ferne an—

und wandelt uns, auch wenn wirs nicht erreichen,

in jenes, das wir, kaum es ahnend, sind;

ein Zeichen weht, erwidernd unserm Zeichen . . .

Wir aber spüren nur den Gegenwind.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Muzot

1924

 

____________________________

 

A WALK

“Already my gaze is upon the hill, the sunny one,

at the end of the path which I’ve only just begun.

So we are grasped, by that which we could not grasp,

at such great distance, so fully manifest—

and it changes us, even when we do not reach it,

into something that, hardly sensing it, we already are;

a sign appears, echoing our own sign . . .

But what we sense is the wind against us.”

Translation by Robert Bly

From Sappho Onwards

Couple saphique allongé, Auguste Rodin, c. 1897

Rodin’s fascination for Sapphic couples, which he shared with Toulouse-Lautrec, Charles Baudelaire, Pierre Louÿs, Paul Verlaine and his predecessor Gustave Courbet, was evident in several of his drawings.

 

“I am sorry to have to ask you to allow me to mention what everybody declares unmentionable. My justification shall be that we may presently be saddled with the moral responsibility for monstrously severe punishments inflicted not only on persons who have corrupted children, but on others whose conduct, however nasty and ridiculous, has been perfectly within their admitted rights as individuals. To a fully occupied person in normal health, with due opportunities for a healthy social enjoyment, the mere idea of the subject of the threatened prosecutions is so expressively disagreeable as to appear unnatural. But everybody does not find it so. There are among us highly respected citizens who have been expelled from public schools for giving effect to the contrary opinion; and there are hundreds of others who might have been expelled on the same ground had they been found out. Greek philosophers, otherwise of unquestioned virtue, have differed with us on the point. So have soldiers, sailors, convicts, and in fact members of all communities deprived of intercourse with women. A whole series of Balzac’s novels turns upon attachments formed by galley slaves for one another – attachments which are represented as redeeming them from utter savagery. Women, from Sappho onwards, have shown that this appetite is not confined to one sex. Now, I do not believe myself to be the only man in England acquainted with these facts. I strongly protest against any journalist writing, as nine out of ten are at this moment dipping their pens to write, as if he had never heard of such things except as vague and sinister rumors concerning the most corrupt phases in the decadence of Babylon, Greece & Rome. I appeal now to the champions of individual rights to join me in a protest against a law by which two adult men can be sentenced to twenty years penal servitude for a private act, freely consented to & desired by both, which concerns themselves alone. There is absolutely no justification for the law except the old theological one of making the secular arm the instrument of God’s vengeance. It is a survival from that discarded system with its stonings and burnings; and it survives because it is so unpleasant that men are loath to meddle with it even with the object of getting rid of it, lest they should be suspected of acting in their personal interest. We are now free to face with the evil of our relic of Inquisition law, and of the moral cowardice, which prevents our getting rid of it. For my own part, I protest against the principle of the law under which the warrants have been issued; and I hope that no attempt will be made to enforce its outrageous penalties in the case of adult men.”

 

George Bernard Shaw

Letter sent  to an editor of a Newspaper

1889

 

No One Among All Artists

Rilke, Rose Beruet, Rodin and their dogs. Photo by Albert Harlingue. Meudon, France

 
Rainer Maria Rilke first approached Auguste Rodin while writing a book-length essay on the sculptor. Rilke spent much time with Rodin and in correspondence with him and worked as his personal secretary for a year or so. And his wife, Clara Westhoff, was a sculptress and had been a student of Rodin’s.

In the second letter of his highly celebrated Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke wrote:

 

“If I were obliged to tell you who taught me to experience something of the essence of creativity, the depth of it and its enduring quality, there are only two names that I can name: that of Jacobsen, the very greatest of writers, and Auguste Rodin, the sculptor. No one among all artists living today compares with them.”

 

What was the source of the famous sculptor’s powerful hold on the fledgling German poet? Apart from artistic and philosophical considerations, some have seen personality factors at work here, primarily in Rilke’s attraction to character traits of Rodin’s that he admired and perhaps wished to emulate. Kent Nerburn, in his foreword to the New World Library edition of the Letters quoted above, writes:

 

“Rodin was everything Rilke was not — confident, robust, sensual, an older man who was secure in his artistic identity and accomplished in his artistic voice. He was an elemental presence, with a chiseled brow, a laborer’s broad physique, and piercing eyes that seemed to see through the artifice and brittle surface of anyone on whom he chose to focus his attention. He was also a man of few words who worked with unceasing diligence, and thought, felt, and spoke not through his words but through the creations of his hands. As Rilke himself said, Rodin lived inside his art; he did not have to constantly seek it and court it from amongst the intrusive distractions of daily affairs.

Contrasted to this was Rilke, the fragile, often sickly young man of delicate sensibilities and uncertain artistic direction, who suffered long periods of artistic aridity and terrifying self-doubt. Slim, slight, easily led astray from his artistic tasks, he lived in constant fear of days when all inspiration failed him and he was left with nothing but ‘dead words …corpse heavy’. How could he not stand in the presence of Rodin without seeing before him the embodiment of all he desired to be as an artist, as well as a mirror of all his own artistic deficiencies and insecurities? And, in fact, this is exactly what happened. In the person of Rodin, Rilke found the model for the artistic authority he wished to possess.”

At Rodin’s Studio

“. . . Yesterday, Monday afternoon at three o’clock, I was at Rodin’s for the first time. Atelier 182 rue de l’Universite. I went down the Seine. He had a model, a girl. Had a little plaster object in his hand on which he was scraping about. He simply quit work, offered me a chair, and we talked. He was kind and gentle. And it seemed to me that I had always known him. That I was only seeing him again; I found him smaller, and yet more powerful, more kindly, and more noble. That forehead, the relationship it bears to his nose which rides out of it like a ship out of harbor . . . that is very remarkable. Character of stone is in that forehead and that nose. And his mouth has a speech whose ring is good, intimate, and full of youth. So also is his laugh, that embarrassed and at the same time joyful laugh of a child that has been given lovely presents. He is very dear to me. That I knew at once. We spoke of many things (as far as my queer language and his time permitted). . . . Then he went on working and begged me to inspect everything that is in the studio. That is not a little. The “hand” is there. C’est une main comme-ça (he said and made with his own so powerful a gesture of holding and shaping that one seemed to see things growing out of it).”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Letter to his wife Clara on September 2, 1902

 

Rilke in Meudon, Rodin’s studio and residence

Adam

Adam, Auguste Rodin, 1880-81.

Rodin drew his inspiration directly from the section of the Michelangelo’s fresco entitled The Creation of Adam

 

“High above he stands, beside the many
saintly figures fronting the cathedral’s
gothic tympanum, close by the window
called the rose, and looks astonished at his

own deification which placed him there.
Erect and proud he smiles, and quite enjoys
this feat of his survival, willed by choice.

As labourer in the fields he made his start
and through his efforts brought to full fruition
the garden God named Eden. But where was
the hidden path that led to the New Earth?

God would not listen to his endless pleas.
Instead, He threatened him that he shall die.
Yet Adam stood his ground: Eve shall give birth.”

Rainer Maria Rilke