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Why is "Two Dancers on Stage" by Degas an Impressionistic painting? Why is "The Little...

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brooklyn94 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted April 1, 2010 at 10:08 PM via web

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Why is "Two Dancers on Stage" by Degas an Impressionistic painting? Why is "The Little 14-Year-Old Dancer" by Degas an Impressionistic painting?

They were all done in the Impressionism era, but what characteristics MAKE them Impressionistic works?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 2, 2010 at 8:27 AM (Answer #1)

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Impressionism was a 19th century art movement that utilized "visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities...ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles." In impressionism, freely brushed colors were of more importance than line; the brush strokes, of "pure and unmixed color, were not smoothly blended," and, used thus, created "a different way of seeing." Impressionism was an art "of immediacy and movement, of candid poses and compositions, of the play of light expressed in a bright and varied use of color."

The painting "Two Dancers on the Stage" by Degas is an example of the impressionistic style. The dancers are painted in the candid action of their dancing, and the details of their appearance are not intricately reproduced on the canvas. Instead, the artist uses varied brush strokes of color to create the impression of texture, and movement in their dance. This method is especially evident in the background, and in the dancers' skirts. The texture of the background is only suggested, and an impression of the gauzy, ethereal quality of the skirts, flowing in the dance, is created through the unique use of color, giving the viewer a multi-dimensional sense of the whole experience of two dancers performing on stage.

From what I can see, "The Little 14-Year-Old Dancer" by Degas is actually a sculpture. The subject, the young dancer, is sculpted in an untraditional, candid pose, and instead of attempting to reproduce the details of her skin and dress, the artist focuses on the play of light on her person as she stands in a unique but at the same time ordinary attitude of dance. A close examination of the sculpture evidences the "strokes" of the artist's working; her skin in particular does not have the texture of skin, but instead gives off the impression of how it might look with the light playing upon it.

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