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Rodin Ups & Downs
I used to let my models wander naked around my studio. Seeing them like that made me familiar with their every movement. I particularly remember Adele and Anna, two Italian sisters, a blonde and a brunette, both perfect in totally different ways.
She joined my studio at the age of 17 as my pupil, assistant and muse – and soon became my mistress. I was drawn to her fiery temperament and outstanding talent. I called on her all the time, consulted her about everything. She was my ferocious friend!
Camille wrote to me from the Château de l’Islette, asking me to buy her a bathing suit so that she could swim in the river. I loved to join her there, we were so happy in our secret place.
I was a laborer. The rough hands you see here spoiled the plaster. I kept the habits of a stonemason from my days as an apprentice. I was like the Renaissance artists, who were craftsmen rather than fine gentlemen.
The city of Calais commissioned me to sculpt the figure of a burgher; I proposed six sculptures. What interested me most was the expression of their suffering. I wanted the figures to impact viewers, to draw them into each personal drama.
I had no fixed way of working, nature was my only guide. I did what interested me, when it suited me. Art was pleasure: an effort, but not a constraint.
My statue of The Thinker was placed in the neighborhood where I grew up, in front of the Panthéon, thanks to a subscription organized by the people of Paris. Described by some as a “gorilla” and “an enormous brute,” The Thinker came to be seen as the incarnation of human thought.
Many of my works were misunderstood, but The Kiss was an immediate success with the public. Yet I intended my art to express the spectrum of emotions, from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of agony.
I do not wish to follow people whose conventional art I despise