La Vague 1897-1903 marbre, onyx, bronze s6659 © Adagp, Paris 2013
“La Vague” (The Wave) by Camille Claudel
Camille Claudel’s sculpture titled “La Vague” (The Wave) is one of her most important pieces of work in her artistry career. Claudel developed it at the height of her career and after the end of her romantic relationship with one of the most successful Sculptors in France. The paper contains a description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment of Claudel’s “La Vague.”
To start with, the work was named in French “La Vague.” Camille Claudel is the artist who developed the statue. Bronze, marble, and onyx are the media used to develop the statue. The image of the work measures 62cm by 56cm by 50 cm. It contains three women who are generally naked. All of them have small body frames and with abundant hair on their heads. One of the ladies is positioned directly below the water wave and the two next to her are holding her hand in a raised manner. The women are playing in a jovial manner. Also, they are looking up at the water wave and they are almost kneeling down. One of the objects in the work is the water body in which the three ladies are frolicking. Moreover, the water is in plenty. It has formed a big wave which is about to crash down.
Color is one of the main visual elements significant in “La Vague.” Brown has been widely used in the image. It appears on the three women as well as the water and its wave. Another visible color in the sculpture is grey. It appears in some parts of the women and the water. Also, is predominantly used in the background of the image.
Another visual component in the Claudel’s artwork is the lines. Generally, the water wave is curved. Also, the women’s posture is curved. The image contains multiple jagged lines forming from the water body, the wave, and the women’s elbows, knees, and their hairs. The lines formed by the women’s body are also thick and mechanical. As for the shapes, the three women form a triangle even though it is incomplete as one two of the women have not held their hands. Also, the wave which has formed from the water body is semicircular. Given that the shapes have been formed from the ladies and the water, they can be classified as natural. The sculpture’s texture is basically rough, achieved through the women’s bodies, and the wave of water.
As for the principles of design, contrast is one of the most significant in “La Vague.” It is visible in the use of color. Brown shade has been widely utilized as compared to grey and white, creating a distinction. Emphasis can also be observed in the statue. The wave commands a higher viewer’s attention than the women. The water wave has been stressed as the ladies are also looking at it. As for the principle of unity, it has been achieved by the way the women are smaller than the wave which is big. The three women have bodies that are similar to each other and together they form a pattern. Redial symmetry is the balance observed in Claudel’s piece of art. It has been achieved through the way the three women are equally spaced around below the wave.
Additionally, the women bending directly below the wave is the focal point of the image. The reason is that she is holding hands with the two other women who have not joined their hands. Another central point in the work is the wave. As it can be observed, the three women are looking up at the wave, and this also commands attention for the viewer.
The three women in the image seem to be playing happily under the wave of water which is an indication of freedom. Liberty makes people happy. The subject of joy is supported by the fact that the three ladies are naked and they also seem unruly. However, their happy moment will not last long as the water wave is almost crashing down on them. As such, it can be assumed that the water wave will fall on them, and destroy their joy. This further indicates that there is time for everything such as being cheerful and the time for sorrow, the time to come together, and the time to part ways. The gathering of the three women emphasizes the need and the importance of having a social network or friends as they make one’s life complete and also, happier. The brown color also dominates in the piece of art. It sets the mood of the image which is sad. Most dark colors are used in artwork to symbolize negativity such as sorrow and anger, among others.
On the other hand, Claudel’s “La Vogue” exhibits a sign of strength and rigid control which is supported by the use of thick and mechanical lines developed through the women and the water wave. Another central theme developed by the artist is the importance of nature. The women are enjoying water as they are dancing and more so, naked so that they can have maximum experience. Given that the wave is one of the focal points in the work, this emphasizes that the environment is crucial to humans as it brings joy which is observed in the women.
“La Vogue” was one of the arts that Claudel developed when she was at height of her career. After breaking up from her relationship which lasted for 10 years, Claudel decided to free herself from Rodin by giving more attention to her artistry as an individual. As such, she created “La vogue” at a time when she was happy and free which are themes explored in the work. Besides, Claudel often spoke about the three fates in someone’s life (Callahan, 2015). Therefore, it could be that the three women in the sculpture “La Vogue” were the three destinies that Claudel used to talk about, including sorrow which she was about to experience and could not be prevented. During the early days in her artistry, Claudel would share with other female sculptors. As such, the female figures in the image could be those women. Most importantly, as a young girl, Claudel was inspired by nature in her art creations. Later in life, between 1893 and 1905, she titled her work ‘sketches from nature’ and based it on the life around her (Stengle, 2014). Since she based “La Vogue” on water, it justifies that she was motivated by the surroundings around her to develop the work. In addition, there was an actual “wave” of eagerness in Paris for Hokusai and Joponism which directly influenced Claudel to come up with “La Vogue.”
Overall, “La Vogue” is a sculpture developed by Camille Claudel. It includes three women who are playing under a wave of water joyfully while holding hands. The piece of art has a wide range of visual elements and principles of design that helps the audience to understand the image being communicated. For instance, the use of brown color is an indication of sadness which is about to befall the ladies. The piece of art contains themes such as happiness and nature which have been justified through research. Claudel developed the work when she was a force to reckon with in the field of art in Paris. Her work was also inspired by nature and by the wave which Paris has experiencing at the time.
Callahan, S. R. (2015). Beyond Rodin: Revisiting the Legacy of Camille Claudel.
Stengle, J. M. (2014). Camille Claudel: The Struggle for Artistic Identity (Doctoral dissertation).