The burghers of Calais … In Calais

May 14, 2019

Auguste Rodin – a sculptor whose work I admired for a long time, so I wanted to see his sculpture “Calais Burgers” at that time like Michelle and I visited the city. I always wanted to see this edition of the sculpture, so making it a reality was special.

I saw a black patinated edition in his studio / garden / home museum in Paris, France, and some mock-ups for sculpture on display at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Canada. But, the green patinated edition in front of the Calais Town Hall allows you to more fully enjoy the details of a complex sculpture.

 Michael Binkley, sculptor, stone sculpture, burghers from Calais, France, bronze homeland

In the morning of our visit, the sun was shining, but the cold winter still hung in a strong sea wind. A clear light emphasized the shadows of the figures, and their flour seemed pleasant, this story was expressed in vivid expressions with hands and faces. I always liked how Roden sculpted the muscles of his figure, and left fingerprints and tool marks. The green shades of the sculpture were complemented by the red brick of the town hall and blue sky.

 Michael Binkley, sculptor, stone sculpture, burghers from Calais, France, bronze homeland

From a distance, the sculpture stands on a small grassy hill and does not seem to scale in front of the massive town hall. But the scale of the figures increases, and their emotions intensify as they approach. It seemed refreshing to me that the viewer can still approach, touch and even stand among the figures of sculptures, in contrast to the Paris edition, on which stands the blatant sign “Do not touch”. Michelle and I were able to enjoy the sculpture alone, as there were no other visitors. It also struck me that the sculpture was pleasantly devoid of vulgar tags, demonstrating the respect that this public art sculpture commands.

 Michael Binkley, sculptor, stone sculpture, burghers from Calais, France, a bronze homeland

A few weeks later, while visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England, we found the Matthew Jay Jackson bronze sculpture “The Great Desolation”, inspired by the Calais Mounds. Part of Jackson took Rodin's numbers, digitized and reduced their surface resolution to barely visible, and then placed them on a detailed map of the moon's surface, where the Apollo 11 crew landed in 1969. It didn’t affect me much. as a work of Rodin, as confirmed by my expression “Whaaaaaa …?”.

 Michael Binkley sculptor stone sculpture burghers Calais, France, bronze Rodin

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