Héloïse and Abélard

Héloïse et Abelard









The subject of “Héloïse and Abélard” suggested for the monument of Melun media library appeared to me, on reflection, as suiting to the place extremely well because it amounts to treating a work on the theme of Love, Knowledge and Tolerance.

A minute proportion of the young people who are to study in this media library do know Héloïse and Abélard’s story and I think it is not their main concern. My purpose was to use this extraordinary story as a base to extract its primal meaning likely to speak to the hearts of spectators, far from historical or political preoccupations.

It was also necessary for this sculpture to show the essential elements which make their story a unique story:

* the love at first sight which aroused their senses and their spirits in a mutual intellectual admiration
* this love that suddenly swept away conventions and customs led the great professor and his very young pupil into a lifelong spiritual communion. From this love a son was born, Astrolabe, whose name will be given to this media library. Abélard’s castration that occurred later gave this love a totally spiritual nature.

Now how to convey these fundamental elements into a work?
Only exceptional beings are able to feel an exceptional love. Such beings have an eternal youth in themselves. That is why these two figures are both young.
Each is handled in a very different theme developed in the robes.
For Héloïse, the theme of the swallow representing beauty, grace, agility and in order to symbolize her intelligence I made a particular hairstyle gushing from her head like a fountain just as intelligence did from this brilliant mind.

As for Abélard, he is naturally handled in the theme of the tree: the Tree which represents strength, knowledge blooming at the ends of the branches but whose roots go deep into the ground for its substance. Another very important parameter in Héloïse and Abelard’s works isTolerance. I tried to express it by giving their faces mixed ethnic characteristics:
* Héloïse’s face has the fineness of European features but the fleshy lips of an African woman.
* Abélard has the broad and going-bald forehead of an intellectual but has slightly Asian features.
I wanted to make it difficult to say which ethnic group they belong to so that each visitor, whatever his or her origin, could identify himself or herself to these characters.
In the cultural mosaic we now live in, I also wanted their costumes not to be marked by any culture or period in order to allow the mind of each spectator to escape to and dream in the time and space he or she chooses. To my mind, their bodies had to be entirely hidden by their costumes to suggest the predominance of the mind over the matter because this is a project for a media library, one of the places, like universities, which has a soul.

To stress this notion of spiritual communication I made these two figures in meditation.
That is why their eyes are closed.
These two figures, three meters and a half high, will be placed each on a base made of black granite.
These two bases being themselves placed on a large ellipse-shaped slab also made of black granite.
On this granite slab will be encrusted bronze sentences taken from their love correspondence.
In addition to their plastic beauty, these encrustations will evoke the fact that these two meditating figures are linked by the word, the foundation of communication.

Love, Knowledge, Tolerance, that is indeed the real subject of this sculpture.