Camille Claudel Was Not Alone:
Women in Symbolist Sculpture challenging the Culture of Gender
by Professor Griselda Pollock.
Camille Claudel was one of many women sculptors from the later 19th to the early 20th century who engaged with, and transformed figurative sculpture when it was still a major language for art and was being expanded by Symbolist exploration of themes such as life, death, age, desire, and gender. Her creativity was both fostered and challenged by professional and personal proximity to an equally radical sculptor, Auguste Rodin, but was brutally suppressed by her family who deprived her of freedom and denied her access to art from the age of 41. This lecture will place Camille Claudel in a longer history of women sculptors, acknowledging the traumatic suffering of the silenced artist in order to explore the expansion of sculptural possibilities and cultural meanings we find in Camille Claudel’s dynamic and expressive sculptural practice over 22 years.
Griselda Pollock is Professor emerita of Social & Critical Histories of Art, former Director of Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory & History at the University of Leeds and the 2020 Laureate of the Holberg Prize. Born in South Africa, educated in Canada and Britain, she has a BA in Modern History (Oxford University, 1970), MA (1972) and PhD (Art History, 1980, Courtauld Institute of Art, London). Lecturing at Reading, Manchester and Leeds Universities. She retired in 2021. Key publications include: Old Mistresses: Women, Art & Ideology (co-author Rozsika Parker, 1981, 1996, 2013, 2020), Vision and Difference : Feminism, Femininity and the Histories of Art (1988), Generations and Geographies in the Visual Arts: Feminist Readings (1995), Differencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art’s Histories (1999), Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and Archive (2007), and After-Image/After-Affect: Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation in the Virtual Feminist Museum (2013), Charlotte Salomon in the Theatre of Memory (2018), Killing Men & Dying Women: Imagining Difference in 1950s New York Painting (2022), and revised edition of her 1995 monograph on Mary Cassatt (2022).