Edgar Degas. Sculpture
The French artist, Edgar Degas (1834-1917), is particularly famous for his paintings in vibrant colours. Only very few people are, therefore, aware that, for the most part of his career, the master modelled small sculptures in wax, clay and plaster, a number of which were cast in bronze after his death. The Glyptotek owns the complete collection, which is displayed in this special exhibition.
From sculpture to painting
Degas’ sculptures inhabit the same world of subject matter as his paintings: ballet dancers, who keep their balance in almost impossible postures, female bodies in the course of daily toilette, or race horses moving about restlessly before the race begins. The similarities are due to the fact that the artist used the sculptures as models for his paintings. The sculptures themselves were, therefore, not intended for exhibition.
At his death in 1917 Degas left around 150 wax sculptures, of which 72 were cast in bronze two years later. The Glyptotek owns one of only four complete collections of Degas bronzes. Taken together they demonstrate the artist’s characteristic, painstaking work process and his talent for details, balance and dynamic expression.
A preoccupation with movement
In contrast to an actual narrative, the many sculptures demonstrate Degas’ ability to convey the movements of a second’s duration as if they were eternal. The artist himself said that he modelled horses to be able to understand better the mechanism in their movements. For this reason Degas repeats his motifs again and again. Nevertheless, each sculpture is unique, and their expressions are far from uniform.