We all know this guy: Rodin’s The Thinker, the original version of which is housed in a special museum in Paris which I tried to get on a trip to Paris once, but couldn’t it was so crowded. Instead, my friends and I hung out in the museum’s sculpture garden where we capered like second graders, putting our arms around the statuary and making faces – all before showing up in the nearest cafe for our 11am feeding of baked goods so rich and buttery they made you mourn all over again the state of your bad cholesterol (though not enough to stop you reaching for that second croissant.
Anyway, I saw the casting here pictured, a copy of course, on Wednesday at the Peabody Essex Museum which has mounted a special exhibit of Rodin’s works that will be “up” until early September. The museum sits in the heart of historic Salem Massachusetts, a place that until the last couple of decades was a sober working class burg and now belongs to the tourist trade, which is to to say everything witchy, with a focus on images of luscious looking lipsticked witches dressed as if ready to begin the night shift at Hooters.
Those ladies celebrate the human body you could say, just as Rodin did in his in his work -and in case you didn’t know more than a few of his smaller works show something yet more intimate that what we now so mincingly call ‘full frontal nudity.’
What would Rodin make of this wonderful statue of of Roger Conant, credited as the founder of Salem, a man who had nothing whatever to do with the 1692 witch hunt that that brought about the deaths of 24 innocent people?
the guy who had nothing to do with it
He would have liked it, I think, monumental as it is, with the living folds of the cloak. The statue of this Puritan was sculpted by H.H Kiston, a man who himself has just the quirky kind of looks Rodin enjoyed capturing. (I mean look at the face of literary giant Balzac, whose likeness we also saw in that Paris Garden.)
Balzac’s face, as rendered by Rodin, and H.H. Kitson’s, caught on camera. (Love the hair!)
I sit just now delighted by all I have learned by hopping from one site to the next to learn some things . It’s fun to think and learn and then to think some more as we are all called to do at all times in our lives. But look now at this final shot I got of Rodin’s signature work. What is that tiny filament stretching from the Thinker’s nose to his fist but a spider web? And look, there’s another the same little arachnid spun farther down.
What might this say but “Enough thinking! It’s time to stand up and move!”
I’m thinking that too right now because you know what they say: Sitting is the new smoking. So arise and stride out, hot weather or not. Blaze a fresh trail! Be the pioneer your immigrant ancestors were!