Thursday, September 04, 2008

Degas and his dancers


The New York Times takes another look at the Metropolitan Museum's Degas collection and comes to know it for the first time:
At the Met, . . . [Edgar] Degas is the sole occupant of two rooms (one of painting, one of sculpture), the main occupant of two more and is found in two others. Of these six rooms, five include his dancers.

Showing the world of ballet with new kinds of truthfulness, they helped to make his fame during his lifetime. They have never lost their renown, and some grow only more complex with analysis. The relatively simple statuettes, about which Degas liked to speak as if they were not serious, repay multiple viewings. He shows ballet as a world of both idealism and facts.
I am a fan of Degas and of dance, as I have shown in this post from The Cardinal Lawyer. What the Times concludes of Degas's dancers rings true: "In these paintings Degas takes a 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead' view of ballet, seeing it askew, from a distance, at an angle from which it was never intended to be viewed. . . . The result, paradoxically, is that he gives us a vision we believe wholeheartedly, a truth in which he addresses many layers of being."

Degas, The Dance Class


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