Highly Anticipated Opening of France's Camille Claudel Museum

©Musée Camille Claudel/Musée Rodin
©Musée Camille Claudel/Musée Rodin
Photo of Sylvia Edwards Davis
Writer20 February 2017

The long-awaited Camille Claudel museum (the first in the world) is opening its door in Nogent-sur-Seine, a small industrial town in the Champagne region. This area is just one hour by train from Paris, where the talented artist spent part of her formative years and where her gift was ‘discovered’ by resident sculptor Alfred Boucher, who would recommend her as a student to Auguste Rodin’s studio in Paris.

Camille Claudel (right) with her friend Ghita Theuriet in the studio in 1881 | © musée Camille Claudel/Marco Illuminati

To this day, the legacy of Camille Claudel is more readily associated with her trials and misfortunes than with her extraordinary talent as a sculptor. Despite major retrospective exhibitions that posthumously gave her work the recognition that was denied Claudel during her lifetime, there wasn’t a museum dedicated to her name. With time, however, the creative genius of her work increasingly shone through on its own merit.

Camille CLAUDEL, crouching women, circa 1884 | © Musée Camille Claudel/Marco Illuminati

In 2003, an exhibition devoted to Camille Claudel in Nogent-sur-Seine drew more than 40,000 visitors in three months. The success of the event was such that the town decided it was time to give Claudel her own museum, expanding on the existing collection of the former museum Dubois-Boucher. After a long and arduous road to bring the project to completion, the Musée Camille Claudel opens its doors on March 26.

The museography is reduced to its simplest form, to allow the force of the art to speak for itself. The aim is to provide a harmony of color between floor, walls and furnishings in order to provide a background for the full expression of the pieces.

The Camille Claudel Museum is long overdue | ©Musée Camille Claudel/Marco Illuminati

Covering the period from 1880 to 1914, the exhibit presents more than 200 sculptures, including 43 by Camille Claudel, to offer a wide technical and artistic panorama of sculpture at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Her work is therefore met in context, divided into themes, such as the changing feminine ideal, or mythologies.

L’Abandon | © musée Camille Claudel/Marco Illuminati

Claudel gained notoriety as Rodin’s muse and mistress but never lived to enjoy the recognition her deeply sensitive work deserved. The new museum offers an opportunity to relate to her tumultuous life and career with a more intimate frame of reference to revisit her extraordinary talent.

Opening March 26, 2017

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