Edgar Degas is a name that needs no introduction. Degas was one of the most influential impressionists to have lived. Known to be a “painter of dancers” most of the artworks by Degas involved dancers, and ‘Blue Dancers’ is no exception.
‘Blue Dancers’ is a painting that mixes different art styles; with hints of realism, a bit of modernism, and a lot of impressionism, Degas masterfully added all these aspects to a single painting.
The result of this mix was a brilliant pastel painting that shows a ballerina dancer. Yes, you read that right. Even though you can see four women in the painting, there is just one dancer.
The brilliant strokes that make this painting add a unique effect to it. It is almost like Degas was redefining the idea of Impressionism by creating something unique.
The Composition of ‘Blue Dancers’
Degas painted this painting with pastel colors. He used a very secret way of coating this painting to prevent it from the ravages of time. The reason why he chose pastel over much-preferred oil paint was this effect.
Degas would increase the moisture and heat around the canvas so that the pastel colors would blend in well. Then Degas would use his fingers to spread the color in a way he wanted.
All the effort was worth it as you can see the unique composition paint, and the pattern that emerges in the canvas. The Impressionistic part of the painting can be seen in the background.
Degas painted the flowers and the river in the back like a faithful and aged Impressionist. But the artist turned away from it like a rebellious teenager to try something new and unique.
The Dancer in the Painting
Many people are shocked to know that the painting only shows one ballet dancer, and not four. Take a look at the dancer carefully; look at the wreath of flowers around her hair. Notice how she has tied her hair.
The painting shows a single dancer in different instances of time. Here’s the order of what’s happening.
Starting from the left; the dancer looks at her shoes while holding the wall and notices the strap on her shoulder is also hanging. So the next version of her shows her bending down and adjusting her shoes.
Then she rises up and fixes the strap on her shoulder in the two final versions. The painting shows the elegance and beauty of her posture doing even the simplest things.
The Elegance of Dancers
Degas was not fascinated by the female form or the beauty of a woman. He was fascinated by the elegance of dancers, and how they can move their bodies. The magnificent poses they can strike intrigued the painter.
The reason why many of his paintings are about ballet dancers is because of how important the form and pose of the body are in ballet. The elegant movements of the body are what fascinated the painter.
The painting wants to show how even the simple act of fixing her shoes and her dress can be done in such an elegant way that it looks like a form of dance.
The reason why the artist chose to call this painting “Blue Dancers” and not “Blue Dancer” is because he wanted to highlight how every move the dancer makes looks like a series of dancers moving elegantly.
Notice how there is no defined bottom part in this painting. The dancer seems to emerge from one source. You cannot see her legs or even the edges of her dress. It’s like taking a picture of someone with long exposure.
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