I love surprises (nice ones, not so nice ones, sometimes jolts to the system are good and necessary to keep one on one's toes). I love the joy of chancing upon something I knew nothing about, and finding that I am strangely drawn to it, and I fall in love with it.
Such was my discovery of Camille Claudel (above), a sculptor no doubt well known to art fans, and even casual admirers of art. She was the long-suffering muse/mistress/collaborator of the famed Auguste Rodin, an artist in her own right. I had never heard of her when I stepped into the Musee Rodin for the first time in 2005. I was rightly captivated by Rodin's work, but I was also intrigued by Claudel's, whose work filled mainly one rather messy room, with others scattered oddly throughout the museum.
Prodigiously talented, Claudel was taught by Rodin and there is no escaping comparison between the two because they definitely inspired each other, but where Rodin was sensual, Claudel had that tension of movement. Showing pictures of sculpture is never quite like the real thing, but here is "Maturity", displayed at the Musee d'Orsay -
I love her drawings too -
Portrait de Florence Jean
I'm rambling on about this because I just read somewhere that a retrospective of her work is now on from 15 April to 13 July at the Musee Rodin, one of my favourite spots in Paris. Visitors are numerous, yes, but nowhere near the madness of the Lourve or the Musee d'Orsay, and the gardens are a beautiful spot for a picnic. If you're fortunate enough to be in Paris for visit between now and 13 July, make time for Claudel and a baguette slathered with brie at the Musee Rodin.
Picture of Camille Claudel from http://www.musee-rodin.fr/claud-e.htm; picture of 'Maturity' from http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/sculpture.html?no_cache=1&zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=1947; picture of 'Florence Jean' from http://www.camilleclaudel.asso.fr/pageweb/graphiques.html