Camille Claudel’s Connection
Camille Claudel was a French sculptor and graphic artist who lived during the turn of the 19th century. Though she was praised for her originality, she lived most of her life in relative obscurity, her career ending tragically early. “La Valse” (cast bronze sculpture, 1905) or “The Waltz”, remains one of her best-known sculptures, immortalizing lovers in a tender embrace.
Cast in bronze in 1905, “La Valse” depicts a man and a woman, held close to one another in a loving, sensual embrace as they dance. Claudel’s details of physicality give the impression of softness, adding tenderness to their sensual dance. Though the image of the pair’s bodies pressed together conjures eroticism and the fiery, physical love that accompanies it, there is no doubt that the pair share a deep emotional connection as well. The man’s arm pulls his lover into him with gentle strength, and he turns his head as if to whisper into her ear. They sway together, intimately intertwined, eyes closed in the bliss of the moment. The pair appear to love each other in totality, in every way possible. There is complete trust and closeness, which Claudel elegantly captures through the body language of her subjects. The lovers that she depicts appear lost in their devotion to each other, completely oblivious to the world around them, nude, intertwined, only seeing their partner. Perhaps Claudel wished to give a physical shape to the deep connection that she believed was inherent in love.
Though Rodin objected to their affair because of his marriage, Claudel believed in the eternal bond that her art mirrored, that nothing could separate those who truly loved each other. Her own misfortunes held her back from the love that she dreamt of, but Claudel’s sculpture brings the love she craved into the world with her own skill and shares it with us, encouraging people to immerse themselves in love. “La Valse” offers viewers guidance – take the chance, let worries fade, and be swept away in the dance of love.
What do you think of this sculpture?