Sometimes, I forget to thank the people who make my life so happy in so many ways. Sometimes, I forget to tell them how much I really do appreciate them for being an important part of my life. Today is just another day, nothing special going on. So thank you, all of you, just for being here for me!
Edgar Degas : FIGURES IN MOTION- A collection of 74 bronze sculptures
Aesthetic, utterly captivating and vivid movements captured in sculptures
Famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints and
drawings, many of Edgar Degas’ sculptures depict urban modern life.
During his lifetime, only one sculpture, the Little Fourteen Year Old
Dancer, (made of clay and wax) was shown to the public. After the
negative critical reactions, Degas decided not to show his sculptures in
public, and for the rest of his life, they remained wrapped in mystery.
This is an Edgar Degas we had not known,
and for the first time our public has the chance to see his 74
posthumous bronze sculptures in a special exhibition in MGM Art Space in
Macau. The exhibition Figures in Motion brings us to Degas'
inner and mysterious world, wandering behind the curtains or on stage at
the Opera House in Paris, walking along horse races or peeking into
boudoirs, these precious moments that he captured are with us forever.
Now you have the opportunity to unveil these aesthetic secrets at the first ever Degas’ sculptures exhibition - Edgar Degas : Figures in Motion held by Le French May in Macau. The
exhibition is presenting seventy-four of Degas’ sculptures cast in
bronze, which were originally made from wax, clay and plaster. After
the artist’s death, Albert Bartholomé cast them in metal to display the
most important sculptural heritage of the creator.
“Figures in Motion” is featuring the
importance of the movement and human figure, indicating how they are
always the central objects of Degas’ art. Fascinated by the effect of
indoor lighting and human figures, he always tried to capture
extraordinary postures from unique angles under light and shade. This
posthumous bronze statue collection has been exhibited at the State
Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg for a posthumous bronze exhibition
linked with an international colloquium "Posthumous Bronze in Law and
Edgar Degas' biography :
Born in Paris in 1834, Edgar Degas was a
French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and
drawings. At young age, he already took painting seriously. But, with
his father’s expectation of him going to law school, he duly enrolled in
the course without paying much effort on the studies.
In 1855, Degas met his mentor Jean
Auguste Dominique Ingres who advised by him to "draw lines." That year,
Degas was admitted by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he was taught by
Louis Lamothe and followed the style of Ingres. Later he travelled to
Italy, drawing and painting copies of various Renaissance artists like
Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian. With his effort, Degas achieved the
techniques of high, academic, and classical art.
The artist was thinking to be a history
painter at the beginning. But at his early 30s, he was intrigued by
modern life subjects. He later became a classical painter of modern
life by bringing the traditional methods and techniques of a history
painter into his new are of interest.
He has been regarded as one of the
founders of Impressionism, but he did not agree and prefer to be named
as a realist. Indeed, different from the Impressionists who always took
countryside, rural scenery and natural daylight into their art pieces,
he was captured by the effect of indoor lighting. He was a superb
draftsman, his talents and skills can be seen in his renditions of
dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes, over half of his works
focusing on the subject of dance.
Human figures are always the central
object of Degas' art. The female bodies in movement he depicted show
his keen observation, interest and intensity. He is renowned for his
art creation of dancers; the ultimate expression in his ballet dancers
earned him the recognition. A frequent visitor to the Palais Garnier
Opera House in Paris, he was enthralled and fascinated by the dancers.
Not only sketching dancers on stage during performances, he also spent
time backstage, endlessly drawing dancers in both moments of privacy
and exercise: dressing and undressing, putting on stockings, adjusting
the shoulder strap of a corsage, fastening their tights, examining the
soles of their feet, posing, bowing, lifting legs, raising arms,
rehearsing or relaxing.
Prior to his interest in dancers, as
early as in 1860s, he made his first studies of horses while visiting
his childhood friend Paul Valpinçon in Normandy. He also made
painstaking observation into his modeling of horses. He visited the
racetrack at Longchamp many times, took photos and carefully studied
them, especially the studies of horses in motion made in the 1870s and
1880s by the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge whose new invention
Degas mentioned in one of his numerous notebooks. Muybridge studied
animal and human locomotion, experimented with motion-sequence still
photography and eventually developed a machine “zoopraxiscope” which
used multiple cameras with fast lens shutters to project a sequence of
In the exhibition, two of the horse
sculptures displayed with all four feet off the ground, are a prelude to
his floating dancers. Later when he became more interested and
proficient in dancing figures, he made it like as if the dancers are
floating off their base. Dancers as an art subject in fact presented
Degas with more possibilities of relationships between the sculpted
figure, the base and space. But Degas’ proficiency as a sculptor of
human figures and the fluidity shown by his dancers hovering off the
ground owe much to his earlier fascination with horses.
Understanding his background and
interest, we can see that his sculptures, similar to his photography,
were also an attempt to better understand movement, featuring how light
and shade play and move on the human body. While it is known that he
was working in pastel as late as the end of 1907, and continued making
sculpture as late as 1910, he apparently ceased working in 1912 when he
had to move from his long time residency.
His sculptures stay away from the 19th
Century mainstream French sculpture and he did not like to create
public attention for his works. He was more like “hiding them” from the
public, and the only one exception he exhibited during his lifetime was
The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer. Though the art piece has
little to do with Impressionism, it was shown in the 6th Impressionist
exhibition held in Paris in 1881.
Made in wax, the little dancer is wearing
a real bodice, stockings, shoes, tulle skirt, and horsehair wig with a
satin ribbon, amazing the artists of that time with the use of
materials, but more important is about the realism, judged by some
others as brutish by some. The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer was only seen again publicly a few decades later in April 1920.
The rest of his sculptures remained a
private medium, and somehow “a secret”. Similar to his sketches or
drawings, Degas limited his creation to a small range of subjects,
focusing on the areas fascinated him. The human figures repeat the
creation concepts, similarly displaying subtle variations in composition
or in the dynamics of movement or of muscular tensions within the
body. Besides the dancers from the opera, the artist took women in
various stages of washing and drying themselves illustrating female
nudity in an unidealized fashion.