Saturday, October 8, 2011

Local Escape -- Degas and the Nude at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

It's not often that I will unabashedly demand that people go see art that I like.  However, I just went to the members' preview for the latest exhibition at the MFA in Boston.  If you are anywhere near Boston in the next 4 months, get yourself to the exhibit "Degas and the Nude" at the Museum of Fine Arts. This is George Shackleford's last exhibit before he departs the MFA for Fort Worth (sniff, sniff!) and it's just wonderful. I went Friday night for member previews and was just blown away. There are over 80 pieces from painting to pastel to sketches and sculpture that mindfully trace how Degas worked with nudes throughout his career. I always get the audio guides, particularly for Shackleford's exhibitions, because they are so well done. This was no exception. He has a way of designing a show that just makes sense and tells the story. Even as a fan of Degas, I learned more than I expected and was sad when I'd reached the end. I will go again a couple times, I'm sure before the exhibit closes, but I was glad to have the relative peace and quiet of a near-empty gallery last week to enjoy this on my own!

What is striking though is that there are two other notable Degas exhibits on now as well, "Dancers at the Barre" at the Phillips Collection in DC, which I hope to see next month, and "Ballerinas Picturing Movement" at the Royal Academy in London which I'm itching to try to get to before December. That Degas was both so prolific and so accomplished with both the nude and ballerinas as his subjects that three significant exhibits can run around the world like this is exceptional.

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