Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
Camille Claudel (1864-1943) was a gifted 19th-century French sculptor who worked for Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), became his lover, and eventually left him to gain recognition for herself in the art world. After she crumbled under the combined weight of social reproof, deprivations, and art world prejudices, her family had her committed to an asylum, where she died 30 years later. Although Claudel's life has been romanticized in print and on film, a fully researched biography has never been written until this one. The book draws upon much unpublished material, including letters and photographs that confirm the brilliance of her sculpture, clarify her relationship with Rodin (who did not exploit her, but, in fact, supported her work throughout his life), and reveal the true story of her confinement in a mental institution. Claudel's fascinating life touches many aspects of women's issues: creativity, struggle for recognition, conflict with social values, and art world inequities. Illustrated with personal family photographs, this is an intimate and moving tribute to an artist whose life and work have, until now, been misinterpreted and undervalued.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Having enjoyed unprecedented access to family archives, photographs, and medical records, Claudel specialist Ayral-Clause (French and the humanities, California Polytechnic State Univ.) offers a fascinating account of the artist while also recording much important minutiae. This is intrinsically a life story; Ayral-Clause concentrates on biographical research, providing fresh information on Claudel's career and relationship with Rodin, for instance, while mentioning Claudel's artwork only secondarily. For virtually her entire life, Claudel was protected by Rodin, her teacher and lover by whom she became pregnant. Yet she was always suspicious of Rodin, and her suspicion intensified with age. Included here are numerous Rodin letters and conversations with politicians, writers, and critics. However, it is the examination of Claudel's later years in mental asylums that makes this book the first fully researched biography of the artist. Reine-Marie Paris's Camille: The Life of Camille Caudel, Rodin's Muse and Mistress (1988) is out of date, and the existing play, film, and multitudes of exhibition catalogs tend to mythologize Claudel. Ayral-Clause commands much new data and an admirable objectivity. Highly recommended. Mary Bruce, Cutler Memorial P.L., Plainfield, VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
French sculptor Claudel (1864-1943) is best known for her love affair with fellow artist Auguste Rodin, the basis for a late '80s French film starring Grard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani. Ayral-Clause, a professor of French and the humanities at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, cites original documents and other research to argue that although Rodin is usually depicted as having abandoned a wimpy Camille, in fact Camille was so feisty and in-your-face (a necessity for a woman artist in a man's world) that he wound up running for cover to escape her "insults" once their 15-year-long affair was over. Camille went mad and spent her last 30 years in an asylum. Ayral-Clause's account of these events is clear, although sometimes marred by an artificial prose style with odd syntax: "Events that are denied at the time they occur are often brought back to life through letters or journals discovered later on." Art history students may be disappointed by the generalized comments about Claudel's artworks themselves (shown, along with photos, in 69 b&w illustrations), since the woman, rather than the artist, is in the limelight in this biography. By contrast, Ayral-Clause fully accepts Rodin as a great artist and great man, reserving criticism for Camille's brother, the far-right-wing poet and diplomat Paul Claudel, who ensured she was buried in a common grave for paupers despite the family's great wealth. (June) Forecast: Scholars will find this book, with its mastery of the sources in their original language, a welcome substitute for outdated previous studies, but they will want more in the way of artistic assessment all around; trade readers, by contrast, will want more fully dramatized narrative. The book may get caught in the middle. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Ayral-Clause (French, California Polytechnic State Univ.) delivers a well-researched and tightly written analysis of the career of French sculptor Claudel. A wealth of archival information, including letters from descendants and medical documents from the asylum where the artist spent her final 30 years (only recently made available to scholars) helps to redress the romanticized vision of Claudel as merely Rodin's muse and lover. Newspaper articles and salon reviews help Ayral-Clause to establish not only Claudel's skill in sculpture but also the degree to which her talent was acknowledged during her lifetime: despite praise she received, there were no important commissions and few works sold. Claudel's biography is contextualized through references to important historical and cultural events as well as explanation of the technical processes applied to sculpture during the period. The material is presented in short chapters and is well illustrated with many previously unpublished photographs of the artist, members of her family, and her studio workspaces. The illustrations of Claudel's sculptures are less satisfying than those in Reine-Marie Paris's 1988 exhibition catalog Camille Claudel, but Ayral-Clause's text more than makes up for this shortcoming. Highly recommended for all collections. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. E. K. Menon Purdue University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Odile Ayral-Clause, born in France, has lived in the United States for more than twenty years. She is a professor of French at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. She has written several articles on Camille Claudel and contributed an essay to the recent French catalogue raisonne