Degas: “Russian Dancers” and the Art of Pastel
May 19–October 11, 2015Getty Center
One of Degas’s great late works, Russian Dancers (circa 1899), is on loan to the Getty Museum as the centerpiece of a special installation of late 19th-century French pastels.
In this pastel, Degas celebrates the rambunctious abandon, bright colors, and elaborate folk costumes of Ukrainian peasant dancers, very much in contrast to the ethereal ballerinas for which he is famous. To Degas, the Russian peasants embodied the primitive and visceral human urge to dance. He captured this exuberance by applying layers of pure color on paper, artfully combining the immediacy of drawing with the vibrancy of painting.
Russian Dancers is joined by a selection of works from the permanent collection that depict Paris’s flashy popular entertainments. These include Pierre Bonnard’s Le Moulin Rouge (1889) and At the Circus: Entering the Ring (1899) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.