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 Camille Claudel  (1864 - 1943)

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About: Camille Claudel


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Lived/Active: France      Known for: figurative sculpture

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BIOGRAPHY for Camille Claudel
1864 (Fere-en-Tardenois, Champagne, France)
1943 (Montdevergues Asylum, near Avignon, France)


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figurative sculpture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A beautiful woman and highly talented sculptress in expressive and impressionist styles of figurative works, Camille Claudel had both successes and tragedies in her life.  During her lifetime, she was better known as the mistress of Auguste Rodin than for her artistic skills, but posthumously she is increasingly recognized for her accomplishments.  A film staring Isabelle Adjani helped to make Claudel "a popular heroine of our times."

Rodin was twenty-four years older than Camille Claudel, and the affair ended tragically when he took another mistress, Rose Beuret.  Claudel had a nervous breakdown;  her family placed her in a mental institution; and she lived there for 30 years prior to her death in 1943.

In The New York Times, John Russell reviewing a 1988 Claudell exhibition in Washington DC at the National Museum of Women in The Arts, wrote:  "Her systematic brutalization is one of the most loathsome episodes in the long and somber history of French family life."  However, his comments about her work in the exhibition were much more positive.  He referred to her as a "gifted, intelligent, hardworking and innately heroic artist whose surviving work deserves close professional attention at a high level.  Nor should we ever forget that she lived in a time when the notion of a woman as an artist of genius was thought to be contrary to nature."

The exhibition with drawings, plaster, and bronze pieces, including sixty-three from the Musee Rodin, traveled from DC to Japan.  The exhibition had works representative of Claudel's emotional journey with Rodin beginning with early pieces, such as La France and Galatea, which were expressions of joy, and later works showing increasing resentment and despair.

Wilhemina Cole Holladay, A Museum of Their Own: National Museum of Women in the Arts, pp. 120-122

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