Sofia is the third city that has the honour to exhibit the sole full sculpture collection of Edgar Degas (1834-1917).
The collection belongs to the American M.T. Abraham Center for the Visual Arts and consists of 74 plastic works. It was first presented in Athens, Greece, last autumn and then in spring 2010 it was exhibited in Tel Aviv, Israel. The show in Sofia has been realized with the help of the French Embassy and the French Cultural Institute in Bulgaria. Until 29 September the residents and guests of Sofia can see sculptures from the great artist’s heritage, which are by far less familiar than his impressionist paintings. In fact, Degas has never exhibited his plastic works except for The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, which is the highlight of the exhibition in the National Art Gallery in Sofia. When Degas showed The Little Dancer for the first time, he met scathing criticism, which discouraged him from ever exhibiting his works to the public. “And so, nobody knows that he continued creating sculptures”, Commissioner of the exposition Walter Maibaum told Radio Bulgaria. “It was not until the artist’s death that his heirs entered his workshop only to find some 150 wax casts. Later on, the latter were made into bronze castings”, Walter Maibaum went on to say.
After the plastic works were carefully examined, it was concluded that 74 figures could be cast. Why was their number reduced in half? As Walter Maibaum explains, Degas was working on his sculptures over and over again. Some of them are likely to have had several almost identical replicas, and so only the best one was chosen for casting. Other figures might not have been finished.
Visitors to the exposition in Sofia can enjoy female ballet dancers caught in various moments of their dance, women adjusting their dresses, galloping horse riders, racing horses, etc. Here is what Walter Maibaum has to say about the artist’s sculptures:
An average of twenty-nine bronze copies were made from Degas’s plastic works, Mr Maibaum claims leaning on research on the number of castings. The most popular works may have up to 40 casts, and the less known- up to 10. The wax originals, like the bronze copies, are scattered in various places around the world: in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, as well as in museums in Paris, Cambridge, Yale and Virginia, the USA.
English version: Vyara Popova