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Camille Claudel (fr. Camille Claudel, December 8, 1864, Fer-en-Tardenois - October 19, 1943, Montedeverge, near Avignon) - the most prominent woman sculptor, lived and worked in France, student, assistant, and later - a rival of Auguste Rodin.

Features creativity Camille Claudel: young Camilla, a child prodigy, made the first sculptures out of clay without knowing anything about academic sculpture, the rules of skill and human anatomy. At the same time, she intuitively surpassed tradition and left it behind. Unlike his teacher Auguste Rodinobsessed with movement, Camilla strives for balance and stability. In this case, passion, sensuality, sadness, despair, she conveys with particular skill.
Leaving often traces of the incisor on the surface of the sculpture, Claudel forces the surface texture to participate in creating the impression. Her later works are called expressionist, it seems they were 50 years ahead of similar experiments in sculpture.

Famous sculptures by Camille Claudel: “Vertumnu and Pomona (Shakuntala)”, "Waltz", "Maturity", "Cloto".

Camille Claudel’s life is said more than her work. Stories about her affair with Auguste Rodin as conveniently fit into tragic screenplays and glossy articles, like stories about the ear Van Gogh or about criminal talents Caravaggio. Fascinating and always pulls on the bestseller. Camille Claudel’s fair recognition as a landmark for the history of art of the sculptor was a hundred years late: the first museum with its works opened only in 2017, in the small town of Nogent-sur-Seine near Paris, where little Camilla dug her first clay in the surrounding forests and sculpted the first busts in the barn next to the house.

Wild clay
The Camille Claudel family worked, saved, loudly quarreled, responsibly engaged in housekeeping, taught children Christian values, a sense of duty, and never kissed them. Louis-Prosper Claudel, Camilla's father, was an official, he was transferred several times from one small town to another — and the whole family moved with him. Stern, tough, rectilinear Louis Prosper considered wastefulness a sign of stupidity and lack of manners, but he sold the land he owned after marriage to regain education for children without regrets, and supported the children even when they suddenly chose to be completely not respectable and not monetary.
There were three children, Camilla - the eldest. Her passion for childhood sculpture originated from nowhere - no lessons, no teachers, no strong artistic impressions. She herself digs clay, rereads all the books from the family library - and parses them into suitable plots, heroic profiles, inspirational scenes. But at the same time, studying antique, classical and modern French literature, it broadens the mind to such a scale that several years later it will be free to talk about the most difficult topics among Parisian intellectuals and demonstrate unexpected knowledge for a young girl.
Brother Paul's best friend will be little Camille. Then he will grow up, will become a famous poet, playwright, will be nominated for the Nobel Prize 6 times, as ambassador and consul will work in America, China, Japan, Brazil. His Camilla will always love and wait - according to a legend that no one can check, the lonely and forgotten Camilla whispered “My dear Paul” before her death.
In the meantime, she is 12, and he is 8 - and between classes with a private tutor, he honestly kneads clay and gypsum for Camilla, adores her, happily obeys her iron will and poses for the first busts. Even mortgage registrar Louis Prosper understands that his daughter has a talent that is difficult to resist. And he invites the sculptor Alfred Bush to take a look at the work of Camilla.

Marble boulder
Young Camilla filled the fashionable album in the secular living rooms with questions for one acquaintance. To the question "What are your favorite virtues?" Answered, "There is no such: they are all boring." She did not flirt and did not interest - Camille really cares little about traditional virtues and life scenarios. This woman is like a block of marble, steady, noble and thoroughbred; she needs only to be trimmed a little, to give shape.
In 1881, Camilla moved to Paris with her mother, brother and sister. Firstly, Bush has long been talking about the importance of art education for Camilla, and secondly, Paul also needs a decent education. Paris recovered from the war, laughed already at 5 exhibitions of artists-impressionists, gave a grandiose World exhibition, recognized Manet and accepted the new art. But still not mad enough to take women to the Academy of Fine Arts and allow them to sculpt nude. Even in the Salon her work "Old Helen" accept the first time, but they are not ready to teach at the Academy.
Camilla takes lessons in a private academy of Kolarossi and removes a workshop with several English sculptors. Bush visits them once a week to comment on the work and teach the basics of the art. Leaving for Italy, he asks his friend Auguste Rodin to replace him and especially look at the young Camille Claudel - her style is surprisingly similar to the Rodin one.

Gold mine
“For a man to be a sculptor is a constant challenge to common sense. For a woman, especially with the character of my sister - this is absolutely incredible "- wrote Paul Claudel, Camilla's brother. Stubborn, obsessed, passionate, she became the only female assistant in Rodin's workshop, shearing marble, reduced and enlarged the forms for casting from bronze. Very quickly, from a silent apprentice and a timid student, Camilla turns into a first assistant and adviser. Octave Mirbeau said "She gave Rodin happiness to be understood".
19-year-old, she escapes over 40-year-old Rodin into a special, mature, adult social circle: famous writers, eminent journalists, scandalous artists. She misses the ghostly opportunity to live half-starred in Montmartre, to rebel, to recognize Bonnard and Matisse, her almost peers, to join some kind of avant-garde union. Very soon, women artists will allow themselves this, but not yet Camille.
Her relationship with Rodin will last 15 years. In some wonderful golden years of mutual professional admiration, love passion, inhuman mutual understanding they will all be common: hands and feet fashioned by Camilla, head fashioned by Rodin while Camilla poses. She gets generous commissions for hard work, can rent an apartment closer to his secret (only for dating) workshop, can work out her own large, already workshops, subtle works in an obsessive working capacity and help the teacher-lover in everything. She can do nothing only with the woman to whom Rodin is constantly returning home.
The gap devastated both. Roden was deprived of a close companion, his beloved model (still dizzily beautiful), a brilliant assistant. Camilla was deprived of everything, but did not believe in it yet.
When imitation accusations fall on Camille, Roden will say: "I just showed her how to mine gold, but this is her gold.". True, few will listen to him.

Plaster debris
Left without the patronage of Rodin, Camille Claudel obstinately and defiantly frees his art from its influence. She hopes that she has found her own way: her experiments with materials and glazes are already clinging to modernist finds, and "The head of an old man" exposes the texture-structure that has swollen with folds, outstripping the figure for decades Giacometti. For her "Cloto" it is impossible to find a sculptural tradition and pull up to any direction of the search. Claudel proves that she is a mature master, special, brilliant, but only proves to herself. Critics do not forgive her creative and personal connection with Rodin, now he is at the zenith of fame, it is fashionable to extol him and relate to the epigones of all those who are at least a little emotional marble column. Camilla is much more emotional.
Several times she is ready to make a state order - and in the final stages of the negotiations, everything necessarily fails. Private customers, humiliating side jobs and old friends do not give to die of hunger, but the despair of non-recognition is becoming more profound and painful. And she needs a big confession - on half measures she does not agree. Camilla sees behind all Rodin's failures: he sets up state commissions against her, he sends spies to her to steal ideas. One day she will smash all the work in the workshop into hundreds of fragments so that they do not get to Rodin.
“Let this story make the families in which this terrible misfortune happens, the worst thing to fear, is an artistic vocation!” - Paul Claudel will write in the introduction to the first posthumous retrospective of the work of Camilla.
She will spend the last 30 years in a psychiatric clinic and will never touch clay again. She will die here in 1943, forgotten and abandoned even by her relatives.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova

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