Had someone come to me in my more formative years and said carvings in stone could be erotic I probably would have laughed in their faces. Of course, that would also have been before I was introduced to Rodin. I had been raised with derisive comments about “The Thinker” while the artist’s more notable and eyebrow raising works like “The Kiss” had gone unknown to me. I can’t begin to convey to you my reaction to the latter when I first saw a reproduction of it at a local museum. In truth, despite all my wonderment at the photographs of it in my Art History class, I was ill prepared to be moved by this large, behemoth of a creation. I was in awe.
Add a couple years of life to that, drop me into Paris and, subsequently, into le Musee de Rodin and you have me in an almost perpetual state of ecstasy. His and Claudelle’s sculptures depicted, not only form, but life, love, sensuality; they breathed and moved. The first sculpture I wanted to talk about is “The Eternal Idol”. [All pictures are taken by yours truly from aforementioned trip to ye old City of Lights.]
Even as I sit here looking over what are merely photographs of the work and feel as though I’ve been invited by the artist to look into his heart and see his innermost desires. The man depicted is leaning into the woman’s body, unabashedly, lips upon her flesh, positioned such that you know he is doing what he wants at that moment – to explore, to taste, to worship the creature before him. Hers is to enjoy, to absorb the touch of her lover, to recline and submit. There is nothing of force in the sculpture, truly only the existence of desire and rapture is present to my own eye. The forms move before us in an erotic and sensuous dance willingly giving us a glimpse of the intimacy two individuals can experience.
The next is, admittedly, unknown in title to me and could even be a creation of Rodin’s mistress Claudelle: The two depicted in this one are passionately involved. There is no sense of play, luxury or even the adoring worship of form depicted in the first work. Where the other excels in what feels like a conscious and languorous event; this shows us desire induced oblivion. The phrase, “Here. Now,” comes to mind. Both works show the human form in brilliant display, an architecture of form and beauty, and the marble or bronze figures depict one element essential in all of writing: movement. The characters breathe and, sometimes, they seethe. Desire is depicted in two different timbres showing subtlety of eye and voice by the artists and how it can shift what the audience perceives.
As a writer we are gifted with words. It is to these words we are married, the choice of how we use them something we are continuously putting into practice, and it is through those words we must make the characters bleed, the wind feel cold and the summer rain warm and wet in such a way as to make the audience care. It isn’t about being grammatically correct, but about making mere words live.