January 31, 2010

A Day at the Museum(s): Rodin and the Underground

Drove to Philly through the snow yesterday for a visit to the Rodin Museum and a Poe-related twilight tour at Laurel Hill Cemetery.  It had just begun snowing when I left and the drive up was fun for watching the flakes swirl in paisley patterns across the roads, and for zooming along I-95 past Baltimore only to find that the city skyline had disappeared behind a wall of foggy clouds. 

Danaid - The Source


The Awakening


How does this appear to you?  As peaceful repose?  Erotic abandon?  She was originally intended to be part of Rodin's masterwork, The Gates of Hell, but ended up being sculpted life-size on her own.  Seen whole, the tension in her pose becomes apparent and she takes on a much different meaning.  Rodin named her The Martyr.

A few more images here.


Arrived at the tiny Rodin Museum with nary a flake in the overcast Philly sky, but after my half-hour wander-through found that flurries had begun.  By the time I grabbed something to eat, the snow was again swirling and gathering on the roadways and getting to the cemetery was sketchy.  So very worthwhile, though, as the Underground Museum (as Laurel Hill is called) is truly one of the most fantastic cemeteries I’ve been to.  Built on the grounds of what were once three estates on the border of Philly, it’s a city unto itself, with boulevards lined by family plots and obelisks for skyscrapers.  The Poe connections mentioned on the tour - graves of people he’d known and/or worked with during his short time in Philly - were really unnecessary.  Seeing the place in the snow was reason enough to be there.  The lights of downtown Philly reflected between the cloudy sky and the snowy ground to create a rosy-golden glow in the air that contrasted with the dark grey and white-shrouded monuments.  Unfortunately, it was both too dark and too cold to attempt photos, so the best I can do to convey the beauty of the place is a handful of shots from past rainy-day visits.






The day began early and ended very late and, despite the snow-extended driving time, was full in a way that makes it feel long in a satisfying way.  Which, unfortunately, will make today feel lethargic and brief in comparison.  Always a trade-off...

10 comments:

Stargazerleo said...

The Rodin museum looks interesting. Your picture of the awakening is particularly intriguing against the inner-city window. I'll definitely have to get there one day.

I was wondering about picture taking at the cemetery at night. Res charged up her camera just in case. Again, I apologize for my wussery. I am very glad you had a full day.

KaliDurga said...

The Rodin Museum is tiny, I was done in about a 1/2 hour. But if you know about their equally teeny parking lot, then it's an easy addition to a downtown itinerary. I also tried to get photos of the Gates of Hell outside the front door, but it was so cold that apparently my hands were shaking as I was shooting. I've still never been to the big Art Museum, so we've gotta try to plan a day there and hit the Rodin along with it.

People were taking photos at Laurel Hill with flash. My camera just doesn't seem to do well in dim light and I think flash ruins most shots, so I didn't bother trying. Plus, if I did try, I would've been so busy shooting that I'd have had trouble keeping up with the tour.

Don't apologize, the weather was a total surprise and, as we discussed, you wouldn't have enjoyed yourself if you were worried. But do take a look at the LH schedule, I've highlighted close to a dozen events that I'm interested in through the rest of the year ;)

Jon Parsons said...

looks like you had an amazing day... such a chilling atmosphere... but there's something about the feeling and look of the cemetery that is strangely comforting...

thanks for sharing these shots and your narrative with us...

jp

KaliDurga said...

Perhaps it's all the years I spent watching the Addams Family when I was a kid, but that's exactly how I feel in cemeteries, especially older, historic ones like Laurel Hill. They're comfortable to me.

Thank you, Jon, for stopping by. Speaking of chilling things, are there any more installments of your version of Jekyll & Hyde?

Chrys said...

Wow, sounds like a great day, especially the cemetery at night in the snow - that must have been awesome.

That picture of "The Martyr" - when I first saw it I was not thinking erotic abandon. Something struck me as kind of grotesque and cruel. Hmmm.

KaliDurga said...

The Martyr is definitely an interesting piece. The face is fairly serene in contrast to the contorted body, especially when you look at a photo of the entire sculpture. Great contrasts going on.

Groover said...

Thanks for sharing those photos. Brings back fond memories of long winter Sundays spent in museums and galleries back in Berlin. Love how you photographed the awakening mirrowed in the glass - art in itself.

KaliDurga said...

Yeah, nothing beats going to the museum when the weather's crappy. There's something cozy about the quiet, warm atmosphere :D

And thank you. The plexi cubes that held the more delicate works definitely picked up some interesting reflections.

The Crow said...

I've lived in PA for more than half my life and I haven't been to Phillie to see what the city holds. Shame on me...seriously.

Oh, wait...went to see the Liberty Bell with grandson's class a few years ago, and Independence Hall, but that's hardly Philadelphia.

Time to go visit the city. Enjoyed your post, and I find it not unusual at all that you enjoyed the cemetery. I like visiting them, myself.

KaliDurga said...

If you're close enough and get the chance, Philly makes for a fantastic day- or weekend-trip. I've had so much fun getting to know it over the last couple of years and I've put only the tiniest scratch into the surface of what it offers.

One thing I definitely need to do on one of my next trips is see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Saw them once as a Girl Scout eons ago, but those memories are fuzzy at best.