I was not looking forward to The Kiss. Historically, my opinion of Rodin has been ruled by my very bad habit of turning ignorance into scorn; when I lack experience, I breed insouciance. This entrenched penchant is at its worst with canonical or very famous art, books and films. Symptom: refusal to experience rated cultural object because that would make me an unoriginal pleb. Result: discovery of brilliance of said object several years after everyone else, with consequent exclamations of joy prompting underwhlemed reaction involving words such as 'no' and 'shit.'
So, having dismissed him as an unsubtle scupltor of sentimental cliches, a peddlar of sub-Michaelangelan hardbodies masquerading as cultural heavyweights, I actually went to the Musée Rodin, and looked at the stuff. Fuck me.
This guy does sex. Not Sex, mind you; his figures may be acutely allusive, psychologically and mythologically dense, but they're also deeply fleshy, serpentine and real: mutating tubes of muscle, dimpled, dented and gripped. The current exhibition in the Musée compares Rodin's collection of antiquities with Freud's, and cleverly underlines the contemporaneity of their thinking but also the discrepancy in their minds.
Where Sigmund uses the relics to confirm his view of trapped and tortured little men, Auguste explodes into a robust celebration of female yearning and transgression. His crowd-pulling pieces were as thrilling as any sensible person might expect, but it was the exhibition's series of small female nudes, erupting from antique vases and bowls, that moved me in a sharp and unexpected way. Their combination of the fabulous and the earthen, the rooted and the liberated, evoke a delicate, disorienting mixture of pleasure and pain.
So you know that Monet guy?