The Norton Simon Museum will honor the 100th anniversary of Edgar Degas’s death with the exhibit “Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor,” which runs Nov. 10-April 9. Organized by Norton Simon Museum assistant curator Emily Talbot, the show will explore the French artist’s practice and the relationships between his sculpting, painting and drawing. And although it’s true you can see many works by Degas any time you visit the Pasadena museum, Talbot shared via email some of the reasons why this exhibit is special.
1. It’s the complete collection.
This is the very first time that our complete collection of 72 sculptures by Edgar Degas will be on view at the same time. These bronzes, casts of the artist’s original wax and clay statuettes, transform our understanding of Degas’s art and the role of sculpting within it. They reveal the extent of the artist’s commitment to modeling (which he undertook in private, over the course of five decades), as well as the centrality of this practice for his understanding of form, gesture, and movement.
2. See the bronze modèles.
“Taking Shape” features the museum’s bronze modèles: a unique set of 70 sculptures that were cast directly from Degas’ delicate originals. The modèles served as a template for the serial edition of Degas’s bronzes that can be found in many museum collections and they were an exciting discovery when Norton Simon purchased them in 1977. As the very first casts taken from Degas’s sculptures, the modèles preserve the condition of the fragile waxes when they were discovered in the artist’s studio after his death in 1917- one hundred years ago this year. In some cases, they are the only remaining record of figurines that did not survive the process of casting.
3. It’s more than the sculptures.
To complement the sculptures we are installing them alongside a selection of paintings and pastels from the Norton Simon’s renowned collections. These pairings show how Degas translated…