I Can Feel the Dance in her Soul

Artist: Degas | Little Dancer, age 14 | National Gallery

Artist: Degas | Little Dancer, age 14 | National Gallery

“The Dancer premiered in 1881 at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition in Paris, where it spurred condemnation for its “low” realism that many commentors considered vulgar. She stood as an indecently naturalistic portrayal of a working-class dancer, linked to nebulous ideas of vice, degeneracy, and corruption.”

She originally came to be known as the “Unloved Dancer.”

The world was appalled by her realism. It was the first modern attempt at a realistic sculpture. But the original unloved, wigged, and slippered Dancer no longer exists. The 1881 version was made entirely out of wax, which began to darken. It was later replaced with a simplified revised version also made of wax (as no one wanted to buy the original) Today, there are 30 of these bronze cast dancers around the world that were some what born out of Degas’ original. Plaster mould’s were made after Degas’ death in 1921 of a less detailed version of the unsellable original that Degas had later created. Degas’ revised wax rendition currently resides in the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

Now cloned, and idealized, the new version has been whole heartedly accepted by the masses, yet I still have a longing to be witness to the original. It just goes to show you how uninterested we as humans are in having realism find its way into our art, and how uncomfortable it is when it does, as it interferes with our ability to escape reality. -tM