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Hurrah Degas


I love The Art Gallery of New South Wales. All of the words in its name are friendly, and I think it reminds me of the excitement and pleasure of visiting the Art Gallery in Ottawa as a child with my grandmother, then having lunch in the cafeteria on the top level.

I still remember being entranced by an exquisite little bronze figure of a woman standing with her head bent over, combing her curtain of hair.

Years later I was in France and entranced by Degas' little dancer (I fell in love with her) and a small figure of a schoolgirl.

Degas little dancer1_photoByKerryThompson


Incidentally, I’ve read descriptions of the little dancer calling her deformed and drawing all sorts of conclusions as to what that meant - I don’t know if the model was in fact deformed, but the sculpture has never looked that way to me.It’s just the way she is clasping her hands that is lifting her shoulders…


Degas little dancer2_photoByKerryThompson
The woman in the background just happens to be demonstrating what happens to your shape when you clasp your hands behind your back. Photos©Kerry Thompson

Degas' schoolgirl_PhotoByKerryThompson
Degas schoolgirl Photo©KerryThompson

This schoolgirl is tiny, but utterly captivating.

Degas was a magician with body language - Here is a horse - we don’t even miss the neck which is undeniably there, even though it isn’t. And the legs, though roughly formed, look exactly right to be weight-bearing or partially weight-bearing.

Degas horse_PhotoByKerryThompson

There's always something deeply satisfying when an artist working in any medium knows and then captures a subject from the inside out.