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19 Nov 2019

Degas at the Opera

Musée d'Orsay

Reviewed by Ann Saul

They yawn, stretch, adjust ribbons on their slippers, and yes, they dance and bow prettily in "Degas at the Opera," currently at the Musée d'Orsay. The brilliant poses of Degas' dancers are captured in paintings, sculpture, drawings, pastels, monotypes, and prints, revealing his lifelong fascination with opera. The scenes he depicts, like the opera itself, are inventions of his imagination.

The distinctly modern composition of Dance Examination (1880) shows a strong diagonal formed by a dancer's leg and her mother's shoulder crossed by a dark baseboard, meeting beneath a blue satin bow. A dazzling monotype, Three Ballet Dancers (c. 1878-80), looks down from the dark balcony as garish footlights transform the dancers' faces into surreal masks. Degas explored uncommon formats such as an elongated canvas (double square) and fans in which he used the curve to portray stage and audience. This exhibition is superb in design and execution, and provides both informative commentary and excellent examples.

Exhibition Degas at the Opera link
Start date 24 Sep 2019
End date 19 Jan 2020
Presenter Musée d'Orsay link
Venue Rue de Lille 75343, Paris, FRA map
Image Edgar Degas, Dance Examination (Examen de Danse), 1880, pastel on paper, 62.2 x 46.5 centimeters, photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

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