Camille Claudel (1864–1943) and Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) met in Paris in 1882. Claudel, seventeen years old, wanted to become a sculptor. At forty-one, Rodin was on the threshold of a brilliant career.

For a brief, happy period, the two artists had an intense love affair fired by a common passion for sculpture. Claudel was present and involved during the creation of Rodin’s masterpieces in the 1880s and early 1890s. In the progression of her training in Rodin’s studio, she soon sculpted works of remarkable character and expressive power.

Then came the storm. While Rodin’s new vision of sculpture spread over France and the world, Claudel struggled to have her work recognized in its own right. Irreconcilable artistic and personal differences developed. Their love dwindled. As Rodin’s skill and reputation grew, he was recognized as an artistic genius. He was often compared with the Italian master Michelangelo, as each was the most famous artist of his time. Meanwhile, Claudel withdrew and struggled with psychological problems, which caused her to be institutionalized for the last three decades of her life.

This exhibition is the first in the United States to shed light on these sculptors’ mutual influences. Photographs and letters provide an entry into their private lives. Above all, more than 120 works tell the story of two talented and committed artists determined to find their way, without compromise.

Exhibition organized by Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, in Québec City, with Musée Rodin in Paris. In Detroit, the exhibition has been made possible by a generous grant from the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund. Additional support provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.

Camille Claudel, The Waltz, modeled 1893; cast 1905. Bronze. Poitiers, Musée Sainte-Croix. Photo: Musées de Poitiers / Ch.Vignaud

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