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Degas' Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

Degas' Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

The earlier version that helped spark the birth of modern art

By (author) Gregory Hedberg


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  • The revolutionary book by Gregory Hedberg caused a vivid discussion in the art world even before its publication
  • Pictures and radiographs of the Little Dancer plasters, waxes and bronzes show Degas' work like never before
  • The additional CD features more detailed photographs, original documents and statements by the author
Full Description

A recently discovered plaster of Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen is critically challenging our understanding of Edgar Degas’ most famous work. Documentary and technical evidence confirm that the plaster was cast from Degas’ Little Dancer before the wax sculpture was extensively reworked after 1903. The plaster thus records Degas’ wax as it appeared when it shocked the Parisian art world at the sixth Impressionist exhibition of 1881. It reveals a far more revolutionary work than the reworked Little Dancer wax and the posthumous Hébrard bronzes we know today. The plaster shows why Joris-Karl Huysmans, in 1881, raved that Degas’ Little Dancer was “the only truly modern attempt I know of in sculpture” and why the work left Whistler in a state of near delirium. The plaster reveals Degas at his most innovative by introducing a radical idea of posing a lowly ‘opera rat’ as a revered figure by giving her an iconic pose, then locking her into a square vitrine, thus emphasising her symmetrical, four-sided stance. It is now clear that in his Little Dancer Degas anticipated radical ideas that came to define key aspects of modern art, dramatically impacting his most noted peers, including Whistler, Manet, Seurat and Sargent. Even twentieth-century masterpieces by Duchamp, Giacometti, Oldenburg, Warhol and Hirst reflect, albeit indirectly, Degas’ masterful innovations.

About the Author

Formerly Curator of Paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Chief Curator of the Wadsworth Atheneum, Dr Hedberg is Senior Consultant for European Art at Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York. He has contributed to numerous academic publications, including A New Look at Degas' Sculpture, Festschrift, in recognition of Professor Colin Eisler of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

Arnoldsche Art Publishers
26th Sep 2016
UK, US, Eastern Europe, France, Benelux, Japan, South Korea, Africa, South America & Ireland exclusive. South Africa, N&M East, China non-exclusive
305 mm x 230 mm
320 Pages
381 color
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