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Degas Sculptures

October 11, 2003 to January 4, 2004

Degas Sculptures

Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen
Conceived around 1878-1881, cast 1919-1937
Bronze
98.0 x 35.2 x 24.5 cm.
Collection of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
© 2003 Photograph Ole Haupt,  Courtesy International Arts, Memphis 

The Art Gallery of Ontario will be the sole Canadian venue for a major exhibition of sculptures by renowned French 19th-century artist Edgar Degas from October 11, 2003 to January 4, 2004. Degas Sculptures will present 73 bronzes from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen - one of only four complete sets in existence.

"The Art Gallery of Ontario is proud to host this extraordinary collection of Degas sculptures," said Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO Director and CEO. "This will be a rare opportunity for our visitors to experience the unique grace and beauty of these works."

Degas created sculpture throughout most of his career and was immortalized as "the greatest living sculptor" by painter Auguste Renoir, despite having exhibited only one sculpture during his lifetime - Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. This wax figure, dressed in a real tulle tutu and adorned with a wig tied by a satin ribbon, was presented in the Sixth Impressionist exhibition of 1881. Later cast in bronze, the sculpture is one of Degas's most beloved and famous works and will be a highlight of the AGO's exhibition.

Degas's numerous ballerina figures form a central focus of the exhibition. No other artist has succeeded in portraying the world of ballet with greater insight. His sculptures of young dancers brilliantly capture both fleeting moments of movement and intense images of repose. The artist's outstanding depictions of racehorses and his celebrated series of female bathers will also be featured in the exhibition.

The greatest legacy of the bronzes is that they have preserved forever a critical aspect of Degas's work. Throughout his lifetime, Degas worked in clay and wax to allow himself the freedom to constantly change his sculptures as inspiration moved him. Following the artist's death in 1917, some 150 wax and clay sculptures were taken from his studio and 73 cast in bronze in strictly limited editions by the renowned Hébrard foundry of Paris, under the direct supervision of Degas's heirs. The bronzes are distinguished by the degree to which they approximate the colour and surface of the original wax models. The works shown in this exhibition were acquired by the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 1949 and have never been shown in North America.

Degas Sculptures is organized by Joseph S. Czestochowski and is circulated by International Arts, Memphis, Tennessee, from the collections of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

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