Ahhh, such wise words Audrey. Before heading down to Nice to meet up with friends and see the Tour de France, I decided to extend my trip and spend some time in Paris. I’ve been to the city before and loved it so I was excited to be back. My french a little rustier and now traveling by myself I was a little worried about getting lost and having a hard time getting around but once I got here all of my fears melted away like butter on a baguette. Yum. I took an overnight flight and arrived in the morning and after dropping off my luggage I took off and started what would be a sight-seeing marathon packed into a few days.
Located in the 7th arrondissement (metro Varenne) the museum opened in the early 1900’s and has one location in Paris and another at Rodin’s home in Meudon. The museum in Paris has three exquisite gardens surrounding an old estate, the Hotel Biron. You can pay for a ticket to tour the museum and surroundings or if you rather just a garden ticket to be able to walk the grounds and see the outdoor sculptures. The gardens are broken up into three sections and the first one you enter is the rose garden. There is an eery loop of music that plays a quiet oohing, a melodic coo evoking the sense that some mythical garden nymph is whispering through the garden. It is most haunting to listen to while admiring the ‘Gates of Hell’. I’m assuming it’s an audio-visual art element. The tough stone surrounded by the lightness and sweet smell of roses creates a stunning visual dichotomy.
The romantic in me thinks the more beautiful part of the garden is set up this way because Rodin’s long time companion was named Rose. They met in the 1860’s and weren’t married until the year he died in 1917. They are buried together at his home with ‘The Thinker’ as their monument.
Next to the chapel holds featured exhibits and smaller marble sculptures by Rodin. Simple wood plank floors and bare gray walls are a blank canvas for the smooth white sculptures. Natural light pours in through the skylight with a greenhouse style ceiling at the far end of the room. It provides the availability to have a natural unaltered view of Rodin’s work. The pieces rest on rustic blocks that resemble wooden shipping crates, another juxtaposition of textures that created a simple presence letting the work stand out even more. (Sorry I’m a museum rule follower so no photos from this room!) There is a sunken alley in the middle of the room allowing visitors to get close to the works and inspect the chisel marks and soft lines on the stone. I’ve been really drawn to winged sculptures recently and the ‘Fall of Icarus’ was the most intriguing to me. You can also take a peek at some of his more famous works like ‘The Kiss’ and ‘The Cathedral’. On your way out of the exhibition be sure to check out the monument to Victor Hugo for the Palais Royal gardens as he appears to wink at you on your way out the door.
Can’t get to Paris to see all of Rodin’s great works? Head to the museum’s website and they have a virtual catalog of what is being featured at the time so you can sit on your couch with a glass of french wine and whisk yourself there! http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en
Need to see it more up close and personal but without a passport? Head to Philadelphia where they have a museum dedicated to Rodin and you can see casts of his work and sculpture gardens. http://www.rodinmuseum.org/