Camille Claudel (1864–1943) was among the most daring and visionary sculptors of the late nineteenth century. Although much attention has been paid to her tumultuous life—her affair with her mentor, Auguste Rodin; the premature end to her career; her thirty-year institutionalization in an asylum—her art remains little known outside of France. Memorably praised by critic Octave Mirbeau in 1895 as “a revolt of nature: a woman of genius,” Claudel was celebrated for her brilliance during a time when women sculptors were rare.
Featuring more than two hundred photographs along with contributions from leading experts, this publication accompanies the first comprehensive survey of Claudel’s oeuvre in nearly forty years. With essays exploring the many facets of her life, work, and reception; a biography; commentary by American sculptor Kiki Smith; and a fascinating appendix of documents written by Claudel and her contemporaries, this volume reevaluates the artist’s work on its own merits and repositions her legacy within a more complex genealogy of modernism.
This volume, copublished with The Art Institute of Chicago, accompanies an exhibition on view at The Art Institute of Chicago from October 7, 2023, to February 19, 2024 and at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from April 2 to July 21, 2024.
“In the catalogue, Bowyer and Desmas lament the ways in which the ‘biographical miasma,’ that is, ‘the sensationalist and melodramatic tales of doomed romance, victimhood, and madness’ around Claudel, have ‘tended to obscure—or even excise—the sculptor’s art and agency.’ The point is well-taken. But it’s not easy to tiptoe around the Claudel ‘miasma’ without ignoring the truth.”~Sebastian Smee