Le Musée Rodin et Washington and Lee

W&L Spring Term Paris at Rodin Museum!

Some Questions To Consider

As you walk through the museum, keep in mind the palimpsest (in regards to the history you just learned), and also think about how the space encourages itself to be seen (compared to the Louvre, Cluny, Carnavalet, et cetera). Also keep in mind the idea of nature (natural light, natural forms, slightly wilder gardens, the forest space) as a constant theme.

North Garden

  1. Compared to the mirrors in the Louvre, is a natural space more or less receptive to the mix of old and contemporary art? How does the garden setting affect the way Rodin’s sculptures recall history in comparison to the way sculptures in the Louvre recall history?
  2. The North Garden contains many of Rodin’s most famous sculptures such as the Thinker, the Gates of Hell, the Three Shades, and the Burghers of Calais.
  3. How is the Thinker presented with the surrounding sculptures, and what are the effects? How are visitors invited to interact with it?
  4. The Gates of Hell inspired many of Rodin’s other sculptures, including the Thinker and Adam. Find the Thinker and the Three Shades in the sculpture. Does the identity of these images change with a different surrounding?
  5. Erik Samakh’s Between Nature and Sculpture includes illuminated rocks and strange sounds to emphasize the special interaction between nature and sculpture. Do you think it succeeds? Peeling back the layers of this garden, do you think this exhibit is consistent with Rodin’s vision for his museum?
  6. Go to the far right as though you were going to the café and find the empty pedestals. Do they seem odd? Do you think they have an effect, either towards memory or towards history?

The Hotel Biron

Notice the fluidity of the space, but also its dichotomy: the separation of the rooms into different periods of Rodin’s art, the ways different artists are presented. Also note how you are led through this space compared to the garden spaces. Is it the same type of flanerie or not?

  1. The Kiss is a popular sculpture that draws people into the museum space, not unlike Disney’s “weenies.” Would it seem different if it was outside?
  2. The Thinker: Which version do you prefer? How do interactions with the little Thinker differ from the Thinker in the garden? Think of privacy and how that affects memory.
  3. How does the nature of the house itself contribute to the artwork (spaciousness, the continuation of natural colors and lighting from outside)? Do you notice a progression of the artworks as you move through the house? 

The South Garden

Wander through the South Garden, which includes the museum’s café, a wilder garden paired with a more cultivated-French expanse, the fountain area, the forest area, and an enclosed marble exhibit.

  1. Besides making money, what are they trying to do with the café? What atmosphere does it establish, and why would they want that for this type of museum?
  2. Do you think the presence of Les Invalides in the background affects the perception of certain sculptures? Does it remind you, in spite of the continual natural setting, that you are in a historical space?
  3. Find Victor Hugo in the forest area. Notice the pairing of sculpture and setting (greenery, lighting). Does the setting seek to comment on Victor Hugo himself?
  4. The Gallery of Marble: How do these sculptures differ from similar ones inside in the chapel and the Hotel Biron? Why was it important to keep these sculptures in the garden area?

The Chapel

  1. The current exhibit, “Rodin, Flesh and Marble,” continues the focus on Rodin’s marble sculpture studies of human subjects. As you walk through the exhibit, notice how some works appear unfinished. How does the space, especially the pedestals of the sculptures, contribute to the feeling of a work in process?
  2. Throughout, note the contrast of historical and modern elements, and once again the emphasis on the natural.
  3. What do the items offered in the gift-shop say about the art of Rodin and the museum as a whole? 

Musée Rodin

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