CULTURE

Degas bronzes arrive in Athens

The exhibition that opens today at the Herakleidon Museum in the downtown neighborhood of Thiseio comes with an exciting story. The show is intrinsically linked to a discovery that radically changes our knowledge and understanding of the art of Edgar Degas. On display are 74 bronze sculptures by the French artist, on loan from the M.T. Abraham Center for the Visual Arts. Making their world debut in Athens, the sculptures make up a traveling exhibition which is set to go on display around the world. «The Complete Sculptures of Edgar Degas» runs at the Herakleidon Museum to April 25, 2010. At the museum, visitors will get a rare chance to enjoy and get a close look at the celebrated «Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen,» an opportunity that only few have so far had. This is because this particular bronze dancer was cast only recently, following the discovery of a plaster cast created when the French artist was still alive. This is an important element, given that so far, Degas’s bronze statues on display in various museums are based on plaster casts which were made, without exception, following the artist’s death. The 2001-04 period saw the discovery of 74 Degas plaster casts, pieces that had been hidden away since 1955 at the Valsuani Foundry in France. The casts had been created by Paul-Albert Bartholome, also an artist and a close friend of Degas; Bartholome had worked with wax and clay, materials that Degas also used to work with. Bartholome’s heritage has enabled experts and non-experts alike to study and enjoy a series of bronze sculptures offering an accurate image of the figures that Degas created during his lifetime – pieces that the artist himself had no intention of putting on display. The collection hosted at the Herakleidon Museum not only redefines the importance of Degas as a sculptor within a late 19th-early 20th century context, but also demonstrates the role that sculpture played in the development of his paintings. Herakleidon, Experience in Visual Arts, 16 Irakleidon, Thiseio, tel 210.346.1981