News Release
The Passion and Genius of Two Legendary Artists: Camille Claudel and Rodin: Fateful Encounter
Detroit Institute of Arts only U.S. venue for major international exhibition

(Detroit) August 31, 2005—The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is the only U.S. venue for the international exhibition Camille Claudel and Rodin: Fateful Encounter, on view Oct. 9, 2005–Feb. 5, 2006. Fateful Encounter provides the first side-by-side comparison in America of the art of Camille Claudel (1864–1943) and Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), whose remarkable sculptures helped shape the artistic legacy of turn-of-the-century Paris.

“Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin produced extraordinary bodies of sculpture, much of it while working side by side,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “Fateful Encounter will place Rodin’s publicly recognized brilliance within a more intimate frame of reference, while drawing attention to Claudel’s own achievements and revealing the vital connections between the two.”

The exhibition is organized by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in conjunction with the Musée Rodin in Paris. Fifty museums and private collectors have lent objects to the show, and this is the first time the Musée Rodin has generously lent so many important works by Claudel and Rodin to America. In Detroit, the exhibition is sponsored by the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund.

Fateful Encounter is a wonderful collection of art that also tells one of the art world's greatest love stories,” said Frank Fountain, Senior Vice President -- External Affairs and Public Policy. “DaimlerChrysler is proud to sponsor this stunning exhibition as well as numerous other community programs that encourage appreciation for arts and culture, enhance our quality of life and improve the world around us. Fateful Encounter will undoubtedly stimulate and inspire creativity in art lovers everywhere."

Claudel and Rodin shared a passionate personal and professional relationship from the early 1880s to the late 1890s, during which they inspired and influenced each other’s work. Fifty-eight sculptures by Rodin and 62 by Claudel illustrate the exceptional dialogue between the sculptors over the years and how their love was a source of inspiration for both. Rare photographs, drawings, and letters provide further personal and artistic context to this fascinating story.

Camille Claudel and Rodin: Fateful Encounter is organized into three broad sections: Rodin’s and Claudel’s art prior to their meeting; work produced during their initially happy, then later stormy relationship; and each one’s sculptures after their breakup. The exhibition also highlights some of Rodin’s most renowned late masterworks, including Balzac, The Burghers of Calais, and The Thinker, through studies in a range of media developed over many years.

“Unlike previous exhibitions of Rodin’s and Claudel’s sculpture, Fateful Encounter features key works that best reveal the artists’ influence on and reactions to each other,” said Alan P. Darr, Walter B.
Ford II Family curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts and curator of the exhibition in Detroit. “We believe our visitors will find the rich variety of works in Fateful Encounter and the personal romance between Claudel and Rodin of enormous appeal.”

A Tale of Two Artists
At the height of his career, Rodin was regarded in Europe and America as the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo. His dramatic figures, often raw with emotion, pioneered modern sculpture with their emphasis on movement, expression and the evocation of the soul. Rodin was 41-years-old and on the verge of critical and commercial success when he met the 17-year-old Claudel in 1882. Claudel showed early promise as a sculptor, and Rodin, struck by both her talent and her beauty, hired her as his assistant to work on his first major state commission, The Gates of Hell. A determined, ambitious young woman, Claudel was driven to learn everything she could from Rodin, whom she considered a genius.

During long hours spent working together in Rodin’s studio, the artists developed an affection for each other that soon led to an intense love affair, fueled by their common passion for sculpture. Their work during these happy times reflects the inspiration derived from their mutual admiration and love, feelings that would influence their art throughout their careers. While the influence lasted, their relationship did not, and by the early 1890s, both their personal and professional relationship began to dissolve.

Several factors contributed to the deterioration of Rodin and Claudel’s relationship. Rodin was enjoying worldwide critical success, and his reputation, along with his powerful connections in the art world, made him an influential figure—one who could help make or break other artists’ careers. Regarding Claudel’s works, critics often referred to her as Rodin’s student, and constantly compared her sculptures to Rodin’s, as if her talent derived mostly from her ability to imitate her teacher. Claudel resented these associations, and began to resent Rodin as well. She purposefully distanced herself from Rodin in her determination to establish herself as an artist in her own right. Added to this resentment were Claudel’s frustration at having to endure the prejudice against women artists—especially women sculptors—and the resultant lack of educational and professional opportunities.

Yet another obstacle to the romance was Rodin’s relationship with his long-time companion and former model Rose Beuret. Although deeply in love with Claudel, Rodin would not leave Beuret, whom he had lived with for almost 25 years. Rodin’s failure to leave Beuret became intolerable to Claudel. Her jealousy over this situation, along with her continued resentment and frustration, caused her to break with Rodin for good.

After their breakup, their lives took very different paths. Rodin’s career soared. Critics confirmed him as “the most famous artist in the world,” and he was frequently referred to as the greatest sculptor
since Michelangelo. Rodin continued to approach collectors, journalists and government officials to recommend Claudel’s work, and also helped support her financially. Claudel, on the other hand, withdrew into solitude. Her incessant struggle to separate herself artistically from Rodin, along with her bitter resentment over his relationship with Beuret took a toll on her mental state. While she continued to create sculptures, many based on themes that emerged during her relationship with Rodin, her career, as well as her mental health, steeply declined. She was committed to a mental institution by her family in 1913, where she spent the remaining 30 years of her life.

About the Exhibition
The first section shows the artists’ works prior to their meeting in 1882. Sculptures by Rodin include his emotionally charged Bellona, Saint John the Baptist, and his bust of Carrier-Belleuse. Claudel, by contrast, was continuing to explore modeling in clay figures and portraiture under the guidance of the sculptor Alfred Boucher, her first mentor and teacher. One of her earliest works, The Old Hélène, is in this section.

The collaborative section of the exhibition includes masterpieces by Rodin, likely assisted by Claudel, such as Ugolino and His Sons, Eve, and Pierre de Wissant, which were integrated into The Gates of Hell and The Burghers of Calais. Also included are three busts by Claudel and five by Rodin that they created of one another. Their sensitive, strong likenesses appear again in romantic and often tortured allegorical works, such as Claudel’s plaster and clay variations of Sakuntala and The Waltz, and Rodin’s Eternal Idol and Galatea, revealing their profound emotional influence on one another.

Beginning in the early 1890s, Claudel and Rodin’s disintegrating relationship becomes evident in their art, as well as in their letters and correspondence. Disturbed by the growing distance between her and Rodin and his steady climb toward old age, Claudel created The Age of Maturity, depicting a mature man growing old while “youth” desperately tries to pull him back. Swept up by the influence of art nouveau and japonisme (an interest in Japanese style) that dominated turn-of-the-century Paris, Claudel’s sculpture became increasingly lyrical and decorative, as in The Gossips and The Wave. As for Rodin, Claudel’s likeness continued to haunt him and appeared repeatedly in the allegorical portraits he produced in his last years, reflecting the lifelong influence of their relationship and her portraits. These include The Farewell, The Convalescent, Study for France, Aurora and Thought.

A 384-page, fully illustrated catalogue complements Fateful Encounter. Contributing writers include Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, general curator of sculpture at the Musée Rodin, Yves LeCasse, director of collections and research at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and Line Ouellet, director of exhibitions and education at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. The catalogue and exhibition help further the understanding of Claudel’s and Rodin’s work, situating their careers and relationship in the context of their times.

Ticket Information
Wednesdays–Fridays, $14 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-17, $12 per person for groups of 20 or more. Saturdays and Sundays, $17 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-17, $17 per person for groups of 20 or more. Tickets are timed and include an audio tour and museum admission. Ticket sales for DIA members begin Sept. 7 and on Sept. 16 for the general public. Tickets can be ordered by calling 1-877-DIA-TIXS or online at A $3.50 per ticket charge applies for phone (excluding groups) and online orders. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the DIA Box Office Tuesday–Sunday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Exhibition organized by Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, in Quebec 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.

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The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that include a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range, and depth.

The DIA will present a dynamic schedule of programs and activities for all ages, even as the museum’s building is undergoing a major renovation. Visitors can enjoy some of the DIA’s “greatest hits” while the museum prepares for an entirely new installation when renovations are completed in late 2007.

Museum hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For special exhibition hours during the Super Bowl weekend, please visit

Admission is a donation. We recommend $6 for adults and $3 for children. DIA members are admitted free. For membership information call 313-833-7971.

Programs are made possible with support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.

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