When Mapplethorpe Met Rodin
On a recent trip to Paris (one of my favorite cities in the world) I took an afternoon to spend some time at the Rodin Museum.
The museum showcases the master sculptor’s work in both plaster and bronze inside an unassuming—by Parisian standards—château in the 7th arrondissement. The enclosed grounds that contain his most famous work, The Thinker, can be experienced year-round. During the winter, the gardens become a quiet and reverent space that is best experienced during a rare snow shower, and in the spring the roses and their amazing scent hang heavy. The Thinker reminded me a bit of home, where the sculpture also ponders on the front steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts, a landmark I pass every morning on my way to work.
On this visit I was happy to learn that the exhibit featured works by Robert Mapplethorpe. The curated collection seemed like it would be out of place in a museum dedicated to a man who lived nearly 100 years before his contemporary counterpart. However, the clever juxtaposition of these two artists’ work (Mapplethorpe’s photography displayed on glass in the foreground, and Rodin’s sculptures on pedestals beyond) revealed how similar their focus could be at times. Themes such as attention to detail, the human form, eroticism, the use of black and white, and more were grouped intuitively against the stark but richly lit architecture of the château.
Photos: Courtesy of Daniel Caudill