Before coming to Paris, I was not really well versed about Rodin and sculpting in general. But I do am aware of The Thinker (Le Penseur) which is probably one of the most recognizable sculptures in the world. It has always been the symbol of poetry and philosophy and has already appeared in plenty of books and films. When you get inside the Rodin Museum in central Paris, this sculpture will welcome you at once. It is indeed the best representative of Rodin’s creations. It pays homage to the human body in its most dramatic (often poignant) form. Whereas the sculptures of his time are busy reviving the gods of mythology and figures of literature, Rodin brought the heavens down to earth by glorifying the human body and its flexibility to express movement and emotion without being exaggeratedly abstract or contorted.
Most of the sculptures in bronze are dispersed throughout the landscaped park surrounding the small chateau. The rest, especially the ones in marble, are housed inside the ornately decorated chateau together with some impressionist paintings and other works of art from his collections. After seeing all of them, I became quite a fan. Although I am not an art expert, there are just some forms of art that are straightforwardly moving. Rodin is one of those sculptors that were able to capture that. I heard that he had so much difficulty getting his works known during his time when his peers are glorifying the classical art forms and his radical creations have challenged this status quo. Nonetheless he persevered and has then become a revered art master. In fact, casts of his original works are now on display in many museums throughout the world celebrating his revolutionary style.
The Gates of Hell (La Porte de L’Enfer) is a collection of miniature versions of his to-be masterpieces such as The Kiss, The Three Shades and The Thinker, the originals of which are in this museum as well. The gate was supposedly for the then planned Decorative Arts Museum that was never actually built. It is inspired by Dante Aleghieri’s Inferno, the first part of the divine comedy.
Next to Musee d’Orsay, this is probably my other favourite Parisian museum just for the level of emotional impact that the works exude. It is very concentrated with splendid masterworks without being too saturating, easy to navigate, and just awe-inspiring. I cannot wait to return and personally get to know more about the intricacies of his creations.