A story on the Royal Academy's
new exhibition, 'Degas and the Ballet,' by Paul Levy in The Wall Street Journal.
So, the ballet pictures are not "about" a tableau of loveliness that ravished his senses, or sexual desire. Degas famously said: "They call me the painter of dancers, not understanding that for me the dance is a pretext for…rendering movement." The curators of this show mostly buy into this—that these pictures (and plenty of the posthumously discovered and cast sculptures, too) are his response to the challenge of rendering the human figure in motion (and, of course, he did this for horses in his celebrated racing pictures).
This leaves a few questions unanswered, one of which is why did he ignore the many male dancers available for him to observe, draw and paint.....