Paris: How To Spend A Day With Rodin

The year 2017 marks the centenary of the death of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. This is why you’ll hear a lot about him, should you visit France this year.

If you’re staying in our apartments in Paris, here’s a suggestion on how you could spend a day with Rodin and learn many things about this great artist.

A centenary exhibition has been organised at the Grand Palais (3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower) until July 31st. It is a huge success, and in order to avoid queuing up for hours, you can book your ticket here. It is also a good idea to choose an audio-guide. Since many people are expected to visit this excellent exhibition, I would recommend heading there in the morning. Besides learning more about Rodin and his art, you will find information on the history behind many of his works as well as his influence on other artists.

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Home of the exhibition: Paris’s stunning Grand Palais (credit: Getty Images)

You may have heard of the sculptress Camille Claudel. This amazing woman met Rodin in 1882. He was 42, she was 18. Together with other young female artists, she was practicing her art under the direction of sculptor Alfred Boucher. As Boucher was going to be in Rome for several months, he asked  Rodin to replace him. Soon, Rodin noticed how talented Camille was. In 1884, she started working for him. Eventually, the two artists became passionate lovers and rivals.

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Camille Claudel and a fellow sculptress in her studio

The exhibition will enable you to compare what Rodin and Camille Claudel made of the same model, an elderly lady. Rodin saw her as “Celle qui fût la belle Heaulmière”, named after a poem on lost youth and beauty. More originally, Camille Claudel created “Clotho”, a strange statue representing the youngest of the Three Fates in Greek mythology, who decide human destiny.

You will also be able to admire a mask of Camille Claudel, assembled with a reproduction of a hand of Pierre de Wissant. This mask highlights the simple beauty and frailty of Camille as a young woman.

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Same model: Celle qui fût la belle Heaulmière (Rodin) versus Clotho (Claudel)

To continue your day with Rodin, you could spend the afternoon at Musée Rodin (77 rue de Varenne). The museum is in a mansion known as Hôtel Biron, and surrounded by a large and pleasant garden, right in the middle of Paris.

You can enhance your visit of the museum and of the garden with an excellent audio-guide. It will give you additional information on Rodin’s masterpieces. One room of the museum is dedicated to Camille Claudel. There, the outstanding originality and talent of this artist is made obvious.

However, the end of Camille’s life was tragic. After years of passionate love, Rodin and Camille Claudel parted. Camille wanted Rodin to marry her, but he seemed unable to separate from Rose Beuret, a seamstress he had met during his youth. Rodin tried to help Camille and boost her career, but she grew suspicious of him. She would refer to him as “la fouine”, the snoop. Gradually, Camille became so isolated and hard to deal with that after her father’s death, her family decided to have her locked in a mental institution. She remained there until her death in 1943. During the 30 long years of her seclusion, her mother and her sister never visited her. Her brother, Paul Claudel, who had become a well-known writer, visited her on 13 occasions.

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Scenic grounds: the setting of Musée Rodin

By the time Camille was put in a mental institution, Rodin was an old man. Apart from sending her money, he was not able to give much support. Rodin had many mistresses and never parted from Rose Beuret. However, Camille Claudel had a special place in his heart. When he planned Musée Rodin, he included an exhibition space for Camille’s works. In so doing, Rodin made the link between his work and the work of his unfortunate love unforgettable.

The Arts In Barcelona: El Grec Festival

El Grec is a big part of Barcelona’s identity. In July, this festival transforms the warm summer nights, bringing to the city some of the best theatre, dance, music and circus acts. If you are in the Catalan capital at this time, don’t miss the opportunity to attend some of the performances.

This year, El Grec will take place the whole month of July. Although the programme is not yet complete, we know that the main theme will be that of the ‘Mediterranean’. Some highlights will include the flamenco dance ‘La Baila’ of choreographer Israel Galván (Teatre Grec, July 4-5) and the new play by Dimitris Papaionnou, which will be both experimental and meticulously arranged (Mercat de les Flors theatre, July 2-4). In fact, Papaionnou is well-known for designing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics back in 2004.

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Legend of flamenco: Israel Galvan (credit: lerocherdepalmer.fr)

The story

The festival started in 1976 when the Assembly of Actors and Directors of Catalunya decided to give a platform to the innovative and independent performing arts. A lot of these appeared right after the death of the Spanish dictator Franco and the restoration of democracy in Spain.

In 1979, Barcelona City Council became the organisers of the festival. This meant that international actors and directors started coming to Barcelona, alongside Catalans already playing at the festival.

Since then, some of the best theatre writers, directors and performers have come to play at El Grec. Dario Fo, Lindsay Kemp, Robert Lepage and many others have enjoyed the July nights in Barcelona. Some famous musicians have also graced its stages, like Caetano Veloso, Bob Dylan and Santana.

The venues 

Teatre Grec

This is the heart of the festival. The main performances and events take place at this venue built in 1929 by Ramon Reventós and Nicolau Maria Rubió I Tudurí. On July 8, Santiago Auserón will play some of his songs, accompanied by the stunning Barcelona Municipal Band. Not far from the Teatro Grec, you can stay in one of our luxury apartments, our Plaza Espana II residence.

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Rocky backdrop and great acoustics: the Teatre Grec (credit: lameva.barcelona.cat)

Teatre Nacional de Catalunya

Opened in 1996 and designed by the famous Spanish architect Ricard Bofill, it us one of the most outstanding cultural facilities of Barcelona. The main building of this theatre takes is inspired by the Parthenon in Athens, with two halls (450 and 870 people can be seated in these theatres). Some of the main events take place here during the festival.

Teatre Lliure

Founded in 1976, its main stage is in the former Palau de l’Agricultura of Montjuïc. The main hall, Sala Fabià Puigserver, can seat more than 700 spectators. It is worth visiting it even if it is just for its beautiful exterior. The Teatre Lliure is also conveniently close to our beautiful Botadura residence.

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Teatre Lliure (credit: shbarcelona.com)

Auditori

This was opened in 1999. The venue has three halls: Sala 1 Pau Casals for 2.200 spectators, Sala 2 Oriol Martorell with 600 places, and Sala 3 Tete Montoliu with 400 places. Nowadays, some of the greatest orchestras of the world come to the Auditori. It also serves as the home of the Orquestra Simfònica of Barcelona, where the best upcoming conductors and orchestras are taught and perform.

Although main events and activities take place at all the venues mentioned above, a few shows of the El Grec are also hosted in other venues like the Teatre Romea, La Villarroel, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), the Joan Miró Foundation and the CaixaForum art centre. In particularly, it’s worth noting that the Sala Beckett (in Poblenou) will host “Un tret al cap” (July 5-30), the much-anticipated new play of Pau Miró, one of the most popular Catalan theatre directors.

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Playwright Pau Miro will present his latest work at the festival (credit: Xavier Solanas)

If you want to learn more about the festival as the full programme is announced, check out their website.