June 17, 2013

Degas' Dancers' Last Performances

I found a second 11" x 14" page of my conte crayon studies of the small bronzes of Dega’s dancers in the Musee D’orsay. I set about the task of cleaning, restoring and modifying the sketches into a presentable drawing. I soon became apparent from too many figures running off the edge of the page that this was not a drawing to be salvaged. But the figures themselves were interesting and they had sentimental value. I had used two of them on some of my early painted boxes, one of which is pictured at right.

Instead of trying to preserve this page of dancers, I decided to cut all the figures out and play with various configurations of them in groups of twos and threes. From these arrangements I made four new drawings. It wasn’t my intention to generate new works from old studies. I had only wanted to finish what I had begun years ago. I suppose these dancers called out to me to allow them one last performance before retirement.

For my first new work I used my charcoals and pastels in my arrangement of three dancers. I imagine them to be young ladies between the ages of twelve and fourteen - as Degas’ original models appeared to be. There was no indication of clothing on Dega’s original bronze models so the dancers’ performing dresses in this drawing are my own additions. Why should I not retire my models from service (to the painter’s studio) in style, with a spring in their step and fully dressed?

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