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Do you know how many times Rodin seems to have sculpted Balzac?

Neither do I. But based on my visit to the Rodin museum on Sunday and how often my brain was doing this:

…I’m going to go ahead and say it was pretty often.

(Small child not by Rodin.)

Anyway. I was expecting the Rodin museum to be absolutely mobbed, since it was not only free museum Sunday but also an absolutely gorgeous day in the quartier.

But it wasn’t. There were plenty of people there, but no line to get in. I guess Rodin just isn’t quite as famous as Monet or Leonardo da Vinci, The Thinker notwithstanding.

The best thing about going to a museum for free (though I have a sneaking suspicion, which I have never acted on, that with my student visa I have the same privileges as an E.U. citizen under the age of 25–that is, I can get into any museum for free any time) is that you can take as much or as little time as you like. I wouldn’t say I sped through the Rodin museum, but I didn’t linger. Except in the garden, which was magnificent.

Then I did a stroll through the permanent collection. I’m not really into art–I’ve always felt that as a musician I should know more about visual art, maybe teach myself to have more of an affinity for it. But it just doesn’t thrill me. I have my favorites, of course–I really enjoy surrealists like Magritte and Dalì, I think there’s nothing like Monet’s waterlilies, and of course there’s Seurat (oooh, now I know what I’m doing NEXT Sunday, if the weather is good).

For me, the thing that draws me into art is quite often the process, the method. I love to look at a piece of art, whether it be a sculpture or a painting or a building, and think, HOW? With Rodin (and Camille Claudel, and Degas with his ballerinas, and Dalì’s dancing piano), I look and I just can’t get over the fact these enormous creations came out of somebody’s hands. And out of somebody’s brain. Rodin not only imagined The Thinker, but he also was able to execute it in three dimensions. For somebody who will probably only ever sing music written by other people, this is kind of astonishing.

(“And one for Mahler!”)

I love this one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smiling bust before. You go, Rodin.

This next one is of a Japanese woman called Hanako. I was kind of startled to see it, but of course there would have been Japanese people in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. (According to the Musée Rodin website, Hanako was a dancer and actress, and Rodin met her at the 1906 colonial exhibition…rather like W.S. Gilbert and Miss Sixpence Please. Anyway, Rodin was fascinated by a performance in which Hanako’s character committed hara-kiri–ritualized suicide–onstage, and wanted to sculpt her with that expression on her face. I like the version on the website better, I think.)

And that was the Rodin museum. Afterwards I decided that as it was such a glorious day, I should head over to the Sunday market at the Bastille, which really does deserve its own post, and its own official day. But I had rotisserie chicken for lunch, and some gorgeous cherries, and tried to walk through the market without getting crushed. I finally managed to get out and get back on the train, which I took to Place d’Italie, whence I walked back to the Cité Universitaire.

And took a nap. This is becoming a theme. Yesterday I took two. As Greg said, “Like a boss.”


P.S. I was re-reading the Monet post that I linked to, which I wrote in November. Is it just me, or have I gotten snarkier as the year has progressed? The tone of this post is markedly less earnest than the tone of the Monet one. Curious.