Dancing art


October 10, 1998

ART LOVERS will go to see the Baltimore Museum of Art's show based on Edgar Degas' statue, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, for the many paintings and statues by the Impressionist master.

Dance lovers will go for what it shows of the human body in this dance form and of the social phenomenon of ballet a century ago. (A way for hard-working slum girls to improve their own and their family's lives, not unlike some professional sports today.)

Others will go because they couldn't get tickets to the nation's blockbuster art show of the season, an exhibition of paintings by Vincent van Gogh at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Degas was born 19 years before van Gogh and lived 27 years after the younger man's death, but both shows dwell on breakthroughs in art, in France, in the 1880s.

Although the Degas dancer exhibit has been seen in museums in Omaha, Neb., and Williamstown, Mass., this is its first location accessible to the big city multitudes of the East Coast.

The installation at the BMA, which permanently shows a 1927 bronze cast of the Little Dancer as one of its most popular objects, adds layers of understanding based on related works from Baltimore collections.

It includes a mock ballet studio with art materials for young enthusiasts of art or dance, an interactive dimension to a conventional exhibition.

Where else could you see two versions of the same statue, different in tutu and hair ribbon, one out in the open and the other in what looks like a cage?

Pub Date: 10/10/98

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