Damien Hirst’s 2005 work, Virgin (Exposed) reimagines Edgar Degas’s The Little Fourteen Year-Old Dancer as a pregnant specimen, while its title references the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception.
Its garish colors recall the anatomical models and illustrations found in physicians’ offices. Partially flayed and cross-sectioned, the work also evokes historical anatomical female figures whose abdomens could be opened, often to prurient effect, to reveal reproductive organs. However, here there is no frisson of revelation and concealment, and instead the female interior is unsparingly exposed in the public space of a gallery.
Photographed in The Met Breuer (Now Closed) as Part of the 2018 Exhibit, Like Life: Sculpture, Color and The Body.
New York Interior (1921) is an early example of Edward Hopper’s interest in enigmatic indoor scenes, offering an unconventional view of a woman sewing, suggesting the impersonal, yet strangely intimate quality of modern urban life. We glimpse this private moment through a window, with the figure’s turned face and exposed back heightening her anonymity and our awareness of her vulnerability. The woman’s clothing and gesture are reminiscent of the iconic ballet dancers painted by French impressionist Edgar Degas, whom Hopper singled out as the artist whose work he most admired.
French artist Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) made sketches of this composition, Young Woman with Ibis during his second stay in Rome (1857 – 58). Originally conceived as a depiction of a pensive woman, the painting assumed a mysterious air when Degas added the imaginary Middle Eastern cityscape, the pink flowers, and the two red ibises around 1860- 62. About the same time, he also considered adding the brilliant birds to his large historical painting, Semiramis Building Babylon, which resides in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
French Impressionist Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) painted dancers for roughly half of his career, and the above pastel drawing is only one of dozens of his images depicting a dancer in a pink outfit. I saw this one, Danseuse Rose (1896) at MOMA in New York over the summer.