Degas and the Ballet at the Royal Academy of Arts

Darcy Bussell, former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet poses in front of "Dancer with Bouquets" by Edgar Degas at the Royal Academy of Arts.

The Royal Academy of Arts presents a landmark exhibition focusing on Edgar Degas’s preoccupation with movement as an artist of the dance. Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement traces the development of the artist’s ballet imagery throughout his career, from the documentary mode of the early 1870s to the sensuous expressiveness of his final years. The exhibition is the first to present Degas’s progressive engagement with the figure in movement in the context of parallel advances in photography and early film; indeed, the artist was keenly aware of these technological developments and often directly involved with them. The exhibition comprises around 85 paintings, sculptures, pastels, drawings, prints and photographs by Degas, as well as photographs by his contemporaries and examples of early film. It brings together selected material from public institutions and private collections in Europe and North America including both celebrated and little-known works by Degas.

Highlights of the exhibition include such masterpieces as the celebrated sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (1880-81, cast. c.1922, Tate, London), which is displayed with a group of outstanding preparatory drawings that together show the artist tracking around his subject like a cinematic eye; Dancer Posing for a Photograph (1875, Pushkin State Museum of Art, Moscow); Dancer on Pointe (c. 1877-78, Private collection); The Dance Lesson (c. 1879, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC); Dancers in a Rehearsal Room with a Double Bass (c. 1882-85, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); and Three Dancers (c. 1903, Beyeler Foundation, Basel).

The exhibition runs from 17 September—11 December 2011.

via Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement at the Royal Academy of Arts.

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2 Responses to Degas and the Ballet at the Royal Academy of Arts

  1. alfy says:

    One of the great achievements of Degas was to obtain the confidence of the dancers he depicted. He was able to get behind the glamour to the sheer hard work of the profession. He could show them aching and tired. I have always had great respect and admiration for dancers because, of all the arts, this is the one which makes the greatest physical demands on its practitioners. There is no such thing as a lazy dancer.

    When I used to teach a class which included dancers, they were excellent students. They were always on time, had completed their homework, and worked well while they were in class. The discipline of dance obviously extended to all their other subjects. Having been invited to see one of their productions, when I actually turned up to see it and congratulated them, they were all really delighted that a non-specialist took an interest in their work.

    I am sure that Degas, with his years of work with dancers at the top of the profession, could have multiplied many instances of the generosity of the women he depicted so faithfully.

  2. Deskarati says:

    I have been a big fan of Degas since my father bought home, what I can only assume was a copy, of ‘Four Dancers behind the scenes’. Unfortunately my mother made him throw it out!!!!!

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