Monday, August 6, 2012

Edgar Degas: Bodies in Motion at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena Part II

On July 6th, I attended a talk at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena on movement in the work of Edgar Degas.  After the talk, I took photographs of the pieces highlighted in the talk and I am sharing them here.  This is part two of two posts that I will make on the topic.  To read part one, visit here.

Edgar Degas, The Star: Dancer on Pointe

In The Star: Dancer on Pointe, Degas captured a pose of a dancer that could not be held for any length of time.  It was truly a moment in passing.  To create this piece, Degas used pencil studies and the model Melina Darde.  He also did something which I think is quite unusual, he added paper to the piece to extend the composition.  This is something that he did in more than one of the pieces at the Norton Simon.  For works on paper, I think this is an interesting technique.  At the time of its debut, this piece was considered quite scandalous due to the fact that one may see up her skirt!

Edgar Degas, Women Ironing

Degas portrayed the experiences of women who worked as laundresses with a deft accuracy that captured a feeling of moments in their lives, they were a large portion of his body of work.  He made three different versions of the painting "Women Ironing."  In it you see the movement of one woman using the full force of her body to do the physically challenging work.  The other woman is holding a wine bottle and in mid yawn, for a moment not involved the labor of the moment.

Edgar Degas, Actress in her Dressing Room

Although Degas painted many images of dancers, he rarely painted actresses.  Actress in her dressing room is a rare glimpse into the thespian world from him.  Instead of focusing on her face, the view is from the back, with a soft focus of her face in the mirror's reflection.  To the left almost hidden by the volumnuous folds of her gown is the actresses attendant.

 Edgar Degas, Dancer Looking at the Sole of Her Right Foot & Dancer Holding Her Foot in Her Right Hand

In this series of sculptures, Degas captured moments of dancers holding their feet.  A difficult pose indeed to hold!  In written correspondance, a model shared her difficulties with the pose.  In spite of this, there is a certain grace and power to the poses.

Edgar Degas, alternate view of Dancer Looking at the Sole of Her Right Foot & Dancer Holding Her Foot in Her Right Hand

In one of my photographs, I think you may see how he applied the wax, in some sections dabbed on, in others more smooth.

Edgar Degas, The Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen

For as long as I can remember, I have admired his sculpture, The Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen.  She is the only one of his sculptures to be exhibited in his lifetime.  Imagine my surpise to learn that reaction to her in her time was in no way favorable!  The woman giving the talk said it caused "riots."  I imagine it was more metaphorical than actual, but still, I was shocked.  When she was displayed for the first time, she had a wig of long black hair, apparently the dancer was quite proud of her hair.  She also had a sewn white top and skirt.  She was considered to be too realistic in look and her ballet form poor.  They even went so far as to call her a rat from the sewers!  While members of the critical art community at that time were not impressed, she still remains to me a source of inspiration.  This little dancer, caught in a moment in time.  I have an alternate post of various views of The Little Dancer here.

Degas worked from memory, photographs and live models and said "Drawing is a way of thinking, modelling another."  

This concludes part two of my two part series inspired by the talk I attended, I hope you enjoyed it!

I am linking this post with Inspire Me Monday.


Magic Love Crow said...

I enjoyed this very much! Such amazing art! Such talent! Thanks for sharing Lisa ;o)

Lisa Isabella Russo said...

I'm really glad you enjoyed it! Thank you Stacy.