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Two dancers in green skirts

Painting, 1894, 139×79 cm

Description of the artwork «Two dancers in green skirts»

Sixty-year-old Edgar Degas, before taking up this picture, wrote hundreds of images of ballet dancers: pastel, oil, charcoal, pencil, gouache. He owned each of these techniques so masterly that over time he began to play imitations: he painted pastels so that the image resembled an oil painting, and applied oil defiantly - he applied long, bright strokes as if it were pastel chalks.

"Ballerinas in green skirts" - one of these paintings, fraudulently seized the virtues and effects of pastel design. Degas on this canvas with a height of almost one and a half meters creates generally unimaginable. "Green skirts" is listed in the title - but on these complex multi-layered ballet tutus, illuminated by bright, acrid stage lighting, there is practically no green. The translucent edge shines through and lights up scarlet, the shadow on the skirt is turquoise, yellow highlights on the dense part of the skirt and only a few green spots left alive by the artificial lighting. By them you can restore the true color, by them, like bread crumbs, you can return to reality. And believe Degas for the word that the skirt of the second ballerina, trimmed with the edge of the canvas, is also green. Somewhere outside the picture, several real greenish specks will also be found on it.

These green skirts, painted almost without green paint, like white spots of light on the ballerina’s shoulders and face, like the dancer's unnaturally turned-up leg in an unimaginable stand are signs of Degas’s beloved backstage world of the theater, beacons of artificiality. Distorting light, crippling workouts and rehearsals, through which one must wade to glory, or at least to the main role, the dubious attention of patrons who are able to make this way a little shorter. Degas, as if out of the corner of his eye, seizes the usual everyday quarrel of two dancers - and does not keep his eyes on her, passes by, looks on. We want to move the focus of his view to the right, examine the second participant and wait for the outcome of this tense moment. We unwittingly reach for popcorn and ask for clarity.

The figure of the main participant of the depicted scene, trimmed with the edge of the canvas, is still audacity, even at the end of the XIX century. The Impressionists spotted this method of fixing the “transitory” in Japanese engraving - and felt the similarity of aesthetic views. The name of a special genre of Japanese prints "ukiyo-e"Translates as" pictures of the changing world. " For European art, the value of a passing glance, the importance of the smallest piece of life was an unexpected way to see the world. But the Impressionists pick up the expressiveness of the Japanese engraving as the most consonant with their aesthetic philosophy. Moreover, they find confirmation of their yet rebellious views in the distant, only recently discovered for Europe art, which, despite its novelty, is still old and traditional. Just not yet in Europe. Degas uses this method with peeping from under his elbow, from behind a column or from behind a ladder, using confidently and effectively, with his help turns a deliberate, measured composition into an unconstrained sketch.

This effect of fleetingness Degas sought carefully and deliberately. Popcorn will not.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1894

Size: 139×79 cm

Artwork in selections: 7 selections

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