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degas sculpture | the emperor has no clothes – again

visited the AGO today for the last day of the degas bronze scuplture exhibition. loathesome work. the degression of scuplture since the greeks is astonishing.

of course, i love rodin’s work. the power of his bronzes. the scale of the work. but degas’ work in scuplture is largely an afterthought. he only created one bronze for exhibit in his lifetime, la danseuse à quatorze ans.

all the rest are fabrications. another sculptor went in and working on the basis of wax and plasticine models of dancers created by degas for his paintings.

why would degas create these things if not as works of art? ever tried keeping a constant supply of modeling dancers around? not easy. it makes perfect sense to capture their poses in 3D to better transpose them to two dimensions later.

moreover, the one finished work, la danseuse à quatorze was the only one which looked finished. her skin is smooth. the details of her face are precise, the costume is worked out and is even partly in real chiffon.

in contrast, the artist’s life bronzed life models are almost all roughly hewn and imprecise. just the notion of motion captured in their limbs. and of course dancers’ bodies in motion have a certain magic. but not when their limbs, faces, joints are unfinished blobs of sloppy bronze.

in any case, the gallery was full of the usual fatuous bourgeoisie cooing over what happened to fill the rooms of the second floor of the AGO.

in praise of the exhibit, one of the largest rooms was devoted to sketching from life models. when i was there on a sunday afternoon, the life model was but a jointed wooden skeleton, but all the walls were plastered with visitors stab at degas’ style charcoal drawing.

much closer the spirit of his fabulous drawings.

the emperor has no clothes yet again.

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