I was doing a set of quick poses at Spring Studio a few weeks ago and Minerva Durham, the director of Spring, was sitting in with the group doing some sketching of her own, which she will do from time to time if she’s not busy with other tasks. I concluded my set of gestures with a standing pose. On the break Minerva bestowed generous high praise for my last pose and declared it her favorite of the group. This fascinated me. I had done other poses which I thought were more creative, and I was curious as to why Minerva was so impressed with the last one most of all. So I asked her why and she said that it reminded her of Rodin’s famous work of Eve’s expulsion from paradise. I recalled the Rodin piece Minerva referenced and I realized instantly that she had a great point. Yes! Minerva was right, as she usually is about all things art.
Here’s my pose, sketched by Minerva in charcoal:
And here’s Rodin’s Eve:
Definitely some similarities – the hunched back, the one stepping leg. Although now I wish I had brought my arms closer to my face instead of keeping them down on the lower torso. I’ll remember next time
Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden is one of the great Biblical parables, the narrative which provides the moral foundation for the concept of “original sin” and the subsequent “fall of man”. Artists have depicted this pivotal story with appropriate drama. Its main players, Adam and Eve, are often given physical gestures and facial expressions that communicate profound shame and remorse.
This is The Expulsion of Adam and Eve From the Garden of Paradise, by the 19th century French painter Alexandre Cabanel. Adam and Eve are shown cowering in disgrace as God looms over them, angered at their disobedience:
This is what happens when you misbehave and succumb to temptation – you get kicked out of an earthly paradise AND are forced to cover up your private parts. That’s the real indignity in all this as far as I’m concerned; having to wear a fig leaf. Let this be a lesson to all of you
Here’s the brilliant Rodin again, this time his marble sculpture of both Adam and Eve cast out from paradise. To great effect, Rodin placed Adam’s hand to cover his face in a gesture of humiliation. What a magnificent sculpture:
It is purely out of obligation that I post this next image. It is, of course, Michelangelo’s depiction of Adam and Eve’s expulsion which appears in the Sistine Chapel. It bears the Michelangelo trademark of depicting the female Eve as a manly butch. But the dramatic impact is great, and that sword coming in at Adam’s neck is pretty freaking scary:
American artist Benjamin West succeeded in capturing the tragedy of the fall in this work The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise from 1791. Again we see the hand covering the face gesture, and the atmosphere of God’s wrath:
Since this post was inspired by Minerva’s sketch of my pose I’ve limited it to the expulsion aspect of Adam and Eve. I’ll do another post on the “pre-fall” existence of Adam and Eve and the events which led to that harrowing event – the initial innocence, then the “temptation” that led to Adam and Eve’s bad behavior. More great artwork will take us through that story, so prepare for nudity, snakes and tasty fruit