Degas: Form, Movement, and the Antique Exhibited at the Tampa Museum of Art
TAMPA, FL.- The exhibition which will open to the public on March 12, 2011 will include 47 works by the French Impressionist master Edgar Degas (1834-1917). The museum will complement the exhibition of works by Degas with selections from its pre-eminent collections of antiquities and historical photographs. Together, the works in the exhibition will examine how Degas drew inspiration from the contemporary and ancient worlds.
“The Tampa Museum of Art is pleased to welcome loans from over 30 different lenders. A key work in the exhibition will be Edgar Degas’s Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, cast in bronze by Albino Palazzolo at the Hébrard Foundry and on loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” according to Todd D. Smith, executive director of the Tampa Museum of Art. “This exhibition is not only the first time in the history of the region that a museum has hosted an exhibition dedicated solely to the work of this important figure in the history of Impressionism and modernism, but it represents the second major exhibition of modern art that the museum has presented since opening the doors of its new home a year ago.” The exhibition is curated by the Tampa Museum of Art and organized and produced by International Arts®.
Degas: Form, Movement and the Antique brings together sculptures with a selection of paintings and drawings to explore his interest in form and movement. Edgar Degas (1834-1917) himself spoke on more than one occasion of the connection between his dancers and “the movement and balance of rhythmic dance” found in the art of ancient Greece; often his bathers also demonstrate the influence of antique statuary with which he was familiar from the collections of the Louvre.
In Degas: Form, Movement and the Antique, a selection of Greek and Roman works and late 19th century photographs of antiquities from the Tampa Museum of Art’s outstanding collection will complement the display of works by Degas.
The Museum has secured loans from 20 public institutions throughout the United States and Canada and 10 private collections in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Europe.
A key loan to the exhibition comes from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It has generously agreed to loan its bronze version of Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, probably the most recognizable image associated with Degas. Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, according to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Executive Director Alexander Nyerges, “is one of the quintessential works of 19th-century European art. It stands as an icon of timeless and beautiful sculpture. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is blessed with a fabulous collection of Degas’ original sculptures and waxes thanks to the enormous generosity of the late Paul Mellon. We are certainly quite proud to lend our Little Dancer, one of our most popular and significant European artworks, to this important exhibition.”
Other institutional lenders include: National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Art Gallery of Ontario; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Ackland Art Museum; Armand Hammer Foundation; Art Gallery of York University; Columbus Museum of Art; David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago; Denver Art Museum; Dixon Gallery and Gardens; Flint Institute of Arts; Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts (Hammer Museum/UCLA); Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Norton Museum of Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Tacoma Art Museum; and the Toledo Museum of Art.
Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen and the Bronzes
In 1881, Degas exhibited a wax version of the sculpture, Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition in Paris. The work received a few favorable reviews, including Joris-Karl Huysmans’ comment that Degas “at the first blow” had “overthrown the traditions of sculpture, just as he had long ago shaken the conventions of painting.” The majority of comments, however, ranged from negative to scathing. Most reacted to the abject naturalism of the sculpture in particular the manner in which Degas used common materials and hair as elements of the work.
While Degas continued to create sculptural works, including ones in plaster, he never chose to exhibit three-dimensional works again. In 1897, he even remarked that “I’ve been making sculpture for more than 30 years.” He regarded his sculpture as giving his paintings and drawings “greater expression, greater ardor and more life.” And for him, sculpture was always an experimental form.
After Degas’s death, his heirs discovered a collection of wax models on which Degas worked throughout his life. He used these wax models as works in progress for his two-dimensional works. The heirs worked with the Hébrard Foundry in Paris to create bronze castings of these wax models. In 1918, the Foundry began casting 74 of these wax models into bronze sculptures. It is these posthumous castings which comprise existing sculptural works associated with Degas, and it is from these authorized works that the museum draws the bronzes for this exhibition.
For instance, Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen on loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is one of these bronze castings and was acquired from Degas’s niece. There are only six of these lettered bronzes in public collections in the United States and three abroad.