Book Report: Rodin by Yvon Taillandier (1978)

Book coverYou might remember, gentle reader, that my house is completely done in Impressionism, with maybe a dozen prints of Renoir on the walls along with a Monet print (and the other classic print is a Rembrandt). But what about the sculpture? The only classic sculpture we have is a small rendition of Rodin’s The Kiss because it was a souvenir from the Milwaukee Art Museum which has a plaster cast of it, and this small rendition of it has been in the family for probably almost fifty years–I remember it on the shelves in the apartment in the projects. So I was really hoping to like Rodin (which I am pretty sure I pronounce like Rodan because, although I like to pretend otherwise, I am an uncultured clown).

At any rate, this book: Oh, my.

You know how I like to comment on the balance of text to work in these sorts of books (monographs and photography collections)? This one is completely unbalanced in favor of the text. The text is not biographical; it’s more self-indulgent art criticism (redundant, I know) that explains how Rodin was to sculpture what the Impressionists were to painting. However, the text makes it sound like Rodin is the sculptural equivalent of the Jigsaw killer. Every incomplete figure is a gruesome dismemberment by the sadistic sculptor. I mean, the prose is pretty purple over and over in this regard. And then there’s a dash of Marxist class struggle, which Rodin’s work really, really advances. Death to the Bourgeoisie!

So, yeah, not worth reading. But I just bought the book for the pictures.

And I have a new favorite Rodin piece: The Eternal Spring/Eternal Springtime. But I probably won’t be getting a cast of it any time soon as Nogglestead does not have a lot of horizontal surfaces for sculpture.

And I learned that Rodin worked for a couple years in a factory designing vases and cups, so Rodin was decorating common household goods not unlike the people who worked on Painted Treasures. Rodin also illustrated an edition of Les Fleurs du Mal, known in English as The Flowers of Evil. The last would come in handy on a trivia night if only the trivia window had not shifted to the 1990s.

At any rate, I find that it’s not so easy to flip through these books during football games any more. I’m not sure if my attention spans continue to shrink or if football games have been shortened. Perhaps both. Perhaps the books I’ve picked up of late are particularly wordy in the text. Regardless, I have a couple more queued up and might get a chance to get a couple more at the library book sales this autumn.

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