Rodin & Eros

Pascal Bonafoux. Thames & Hudson, $34.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-500-23900-1
French art historian Bonafoux muses on Rodin's eroticism and sensuality, his influences, and the puritanism of 19th century France he rebelled against. It was a time in which journalists decried allowing women in the Louvre, remarking "Many of the figures…are altogether unfit for female inspection," while Flaubert faced criminal charges over Madame Bovary. Influences discussed include Dante, Baudelaire, the myths of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and the Bible. Bonafoux (Rembrandt: Substance and Shadow) discusses the influence of Dante, Baudelaire, Ovid, and the Bible. He also considers possible influences based on time of publication and similarity in themes to Rodin's work like Alphonse de Lamartine and Gauiter. Commentary by his contemporaries provides insight into Rodin's personality and process, noting that the "continuous presence of naked people" in the studio allowed Rodin to "decipher the expression of emotions in all parts of the body." Bonafoux also provides quotes on aesthetics from Rodin himself, such as his address on the popularity of Japanese prints, when he stated "people should not appropriate that which is not native to them." While a great deal of this book is speculation on possible influences and interpretations, as Bonafoux admits, the material is interesting and the author well-informed enough to make such speculating worthwhile. 156 illus. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/22/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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