Rodin on suffering, nature, and mystery

He who is discouraged after a failure is not a true artist; he must be able to suffer for his art.

I am still suffering, but the will must dominate; if I hadn’t been stubborn, I would not have done what I have done. The art of the sculptor is made of strength, exactitude, and will. In order to express life, to render nature, one must will and will with all the strength of the heart and brain; nature exceeds — and greatly — human genius; she is superior in everything; to believe that you can equal her, to believe that you can create outside her is as stupid as wanting to measure the stars with our hands . . . . Before nature, I am plunged in infinite admiration.

For every one of her beauties that she shows us and that we express, there are a hundred, a thousand that escape us, that exceed us. We know only parcels of truth. There are unknown forces within nature; when we give ourselves wholly to her, without reserve, she lends them to us; she shows us these forms which our watching eyes do not see, which our intelligence does not understand or suspect. In art, to admit only what one understands leads to impotence.

Auguste Rodin


The Burghers of Calais: Pierre de Wissant