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Edgar Degas

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In examining the work of the impressionist artist Edgar Degas, though he himself preferred to be considered a realist, the very mention of his name conjures images of ballerinas. From the most famous statue of Little Dancer Fourteen Years Old who stands prominently defined in our mind’s eyes or the swirling masses of color and form that showed visions of Parisian Operas in the 1800s like that seen in the painting Dancers in the Wings, Degas’ work is indelibly linked to the world of these petite dancers. On the surface it appears a brief glimpse into their lives, but the work of Degas, much like himself is shrouded in heavy layers of enigma and meaning. Why did he focus so highly on the youth of the Parisian ballets, and in what ways does this convey and reveal the attitude of Degas towards his subjects but also his approaches to art? By examining the world of these ballerinas, we can dissect the juxtaposing values of pain and beauty found in their lives, as well as the underlying voyeuristic and sexually charged undertones of Degas’ own perspective. First, we must revisit the reality of the youth pictured throughout much of Degas’ work. His initial sketches of this subject begin as early as 1860 in which “the Opera was an immense pleasure palace, a symbol of French historical pride and preeminence, and a nostalgic repository of the…show more content…
Degas's pictures of ballerinas performing onstage convey exquisitely what makes ballet ballet--all that balance, grace and radiance […] by stripping away the poetry and illusion to show the hard work, the boredom, the more common beauty behind the
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