People call me the painter of dancing girls… It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes. Edgar Degas to Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard, around 1900
At the turn of the twentieth century, the circumstances of a changing modern world were visible on the stage of the Paris ballet. Social classes mixed in this public setting, where some of the city’s poorest young women pirouetted across the stage for paying audiences. The dancers’ internationally influenced costumes often reflected larger cultural exchanges. Edgar Degas became a regular visitor to the ballet at the Paris Opera, which appealed to his interest in classical beauty and modern life. His studies of the ballet over four decades inspired generations of artists to take up the subject.
Some artists, like Degas and Auguste Rodin, depicted dancers as models, rendering their movements and innovative costumes. Other artists, including Jean-Louis Forain and Dame Laura Knight, studied dancers as entertainers who served both public and private audiences, illustrating intimate moments between productions. These works of art reveal the creative world behind the public spectacle.
Exhibition Date: March 27, 2020 - March 28, 2021.
Location: Gallery P28
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