Dr. Juliet Bellow, Associate Professor of Art History, sat down with us to discuss her recent article “Hand Dance: Auguste Rodin’s Drawings of the Cambodian Royal Ballet,” published in the September 2019 issue of Art Bulletin. Professor Bellow’s article examines a series of drawings by Auguste Rodin of dancers from the Cambodian Royal Ballet during the troupe’s visit to Marseille for the Colonial Exposition in 1906 alongside King Sisowath of Cambodia. Rodin traveled to the coastal town to meet and draw members of the dance troupe and produced 150 drawings over the span of just a few days. However, despite the great amount and variety of drawings by the French artist, Rodin never composed them into a large-scale sculpture. In her acknowledgment of the asymmetrical power structures at work between the unnamed Cambodian dancers and Rodin, Professor Bellow strives in her article to give agency to the Cambodian dancers and investigate King Sisowath’s own political motives.
Dr. Bellow’s article for Art Bulletin is a preliminary chapter of her forthcoming book, which will focus on the last 25 years of Rodin’s artistic career and more specifically, Rodin’s investment in dance and its relationship to his own art. Beyond motif and subject matter, Dr. Bellow asks how Rodin used the motif of dance to help cultivate his image as an artist: “My hope is that this book, in general, will give a new view of Rodin.”
Dr. Bellow’s extensive research on the Cambodian Royal Ballet, their visit to France in 1906, and Rodin’s engagement with the troupe took three years to research. This research process included visiting the French Colonial Archives and studying the history and technique of Cambodian dance. Dr. Bellow was also kind enough to offer some insight into the publishing process. “Publishing is really stressful,” Dr. Bellow admits. After submission to the publisher, Dr. Bellow’s article went through a double-blind peer-review process during which the author of the work and the reviewer’s identities are kept anonymous. Three months later, Dr. Bellow received feedback from the peer-reviewer and was given a month to complete her revisions. Finally, after almost a year after her initial submission, Dr. Bellow’s article was published.
Dr. Juliet Bellow’s research is focused on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her book Modernism on Stage: The Ballets Russes and the Parisian Avant-Garde, published in 2013 by Ashgate Press, analyzes set and costume designs by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay and Giorgio de Chirico for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes troupe. Dr. Bellow teaches courses on a range of thematic issues and materials relating to European art of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, including “Art and Dance, 1860-1960,” “Women and the Avant-Garde,” “Revolutionary Aesthetics: Art and Politics in Nineteenth-Century France,” and “Museums and Society.” We look forward to seeing you in Professor Bellow’s classes!