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Philadelphia Museum of Art: Degas and the Dance
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Opéra National de Paris (in French)


No artist has ever been more closely associated with images of dancers than the French Impressionist Edgar Degas; more than half of his vast output of paintings, drawings, and sculptures is devoted to the activities of the ballet dancers and dance students of late 19th-century Paris. These works, recently organized in an acclaimed exhibition by the American Federation of Arts, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, are featured in this unique documentary exploring Degas' intimate connection to the Paris Opéra, where for years he attended performances and watched ballet classes. With unprecedented access to the rehearsal rooms and backstage areas of the magnificent Palais Garnier opera house, hardly changed since Degas' day, and featuring dramatic re-creations of the artist at work in his Montmartre studio, DEGAS AND THE DANCE examines one of Impressionism's foremost artists and the environment that inspired his best-loved works. Actor Frank Langella narrates.

Discover more about the life of Edgar Degas in a biography from the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD BIOGRAPHY that touches on his portraiture, depictions of modern life in Paris, experimental techniques, and inventive bronze sculptures. Although the "Degas and the Dance" exhibition that is the basis for the film completed its run in 2003, you can view a selection of the more than 140 works showcased in it, complemented by audio excerpts from the film, via the timeline in the Multimedia Presentation. (The free RealPlayer plug-in is required to listen to the excerpts.) Learn about the Degas exhibitions slated for 2004 in our guide.

Additional funding for DEGAS AND THE DANCE was provided by: The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet, Anne H. Bass, Belle and Murray Nathan, Thaw Charitable Trust, Dorothy and Lewis Cullman, LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Irene Diamond Fund, Inc.

Top banner photos: Re-creating a Degas charcoal drawing; Degas' painting "The School of Ballet," c. 1873 (The Corcoran Art Gallery); Peter Badger portrays Degas painting the "Frieze of Dancers."

"Green Dancer," c. 1880. (Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY)

Detail of "Green Dancer," c. 1880. (Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY)

Recreation of Degas sculpting "Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen."

A re-creation of Edgar Degas sculpting the only sculpture he ever exhibited in public, "Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen."

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