Getting Carried Away Through Rodin's Gates of Hell in Paris
Would it be inappropriate to note that all great depictions of Hell seem to revel in providing meticulous detail of the sins of the flesh that send us to eternal damnation? Rodin's La Porte de l'Enfer does just this. The giant bronze doorway in the Musée Rodin garden appears to be in movement—this is no mere bas relief—the cast of characters, many from Dante's Divine Comedy, are either struggling to free themselves from the sculpture or luxuriating in their writhing debauchery. Several of these sinners did get a reprieve. You'll recognize many of Rodin's later sculptures here in miniature—The Thinker overlooks the whole grotesque/erotic scene and even that most romantic work, The Kiss, was originally embedded here. Rodin summed up his approach to the work (and perhaps to life in general) as one that was not driven by morality: "It has been from the beginning, and will be to the end, simply and solely a matter of personal pleasure."