Edgar Degas, The Dancer

Edgar Degas, The Dancer
1 record
Edgar Degas was one of the great masters of pastel, a medium he favored throughout his career. Beginning in the 1870s, in a series of pastels devoted to the subject of dancers, Degas tirelessly explored movement, light, and color, producing a body of work unrivalled in beauty and innovation. In The Dancers (1898) a late masterpiece, Degas used the medium with a freedom and power that belie his failing sight. He deftly defined forms with short, vigorous parallel strokes of pastel in bold colors, adding dabs of white chalk like strings of dazzling pearls to enliven the surface of his dancers’ dresses. Degas’s composition is daring; he decapitates one dancer, dangles the truncated leg of another, and slashes the left foreground with a prop tree, thus framing and isolating his balletic trio, who are caught, snapshot-like, frozen between rest and movement. The Dancers, whose subject is iconic within the artist’s oeuvre, is only the second Degas pastel to enter the collection.

- Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator, Modern Art, 2007