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Edgar Degas's Sculpture Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen - Essay Example

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Edgar Degass Sculpture Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen
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"Edgar Degas's Sculpture Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen"

Download file to see previous pages If one is speaking with Marshall Berman, modernity is described as "a mode of vital experience-experience of space and time, of the self and others, of life's possibilities and perils-that is shared by men and women all over the world today. I will call this body of experience 'modernity'" (Berman, 1982). It encompasses the social changes that are constantly taking shape, the way in which these changes are experienced and the reflection of these experiences in various circles. It is a world of definition and ambiguity, a world of static definitions and constant change. For Marshall Berman, the contradictions of modernity are characterized by a tendency to order space and time while simultaneously promoting their ruination and failure. Many of these concepts are uniquely applicable to Edgar Degas' only publicly displayed sculpture, a small wax figure of a young ballet dancer conveying a strong sense of personality entitled "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen."
In describing the modern human, Berman says "they are moved at once by a will to change - to transform both themselves and their world - and by a terror of disorientation and disintegration, of life falling apart" (Berman, 1982). Through this statement, it is easy to see the conflicting emotions of an individual undergoing change of any kind. Relating it to everyday life, an individual might strive to pursue a dream career by quitting their job and launching a business of their own, but at the same time be paralyzed by the fear of this new venture failing, or worse, succeeding. Either way, it represents a change in the way things have been. "To be modern is to live a life of paradox and contradiction. It is to be overpowered by the immense bureaucratic organizations that have the power to control and often to destroy all communities, values, lives; and yet to be undeterred in our determination to face these forces, to fight to change their world and make it our own. It is to be both revolutionary and conservative: alive to new possibilities for experience and adventure, frightened by the nihilistic depths to which so many modern adventures lead" (Berman, 1982). These were the ideas emerging in the world as Degas was working in his studio and the ideas that have been discovered within the small shape of his tiny dancer.
The origin of the statue is not fully known. According to the foremost expert on the statue, Richard Kendall, the artist created the statue between the years of 1878 and 1881 when he was in his middle forties. This was at the height of his involvement with Impressionism and his sculpture is considered the first major sculpture associated with the movement. Impressionism is largely considered to be a movement within Modernism in which emphasis was placed on the emotional content of the image more than the physical content. Artists working during this period dedicated themselves to the depiction of human emotions as discovered through the colors and lines of their work rather than through the symbols and forms of the photograph and the machine age. In doing so, these artists were attempting to dig deep into the feeling of human experience as a means of discovering the true reality of what being human meant; in other words, to express the sublime. Lyotard (1984) describes this process as an attempt "to make visible that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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