EXHIBITION

Edgar Degas, "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen," 1879–81. Bronze, with gauze tutu and silk ribbon, on wooden base. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts (1955.45).

Pablo Picasso is said to have remarked that "good artists copy; great artists steal." Throughout his long and prolific career, Picasso often made works of art in response to his predecessors, "quoting" famous compositions by Rembrandt, Delacroix, Manet, and others in his own paintings. In his youth, contemporaries also noted the influence of Edgar Degas in Picasso's paintings of cabarets and cafés, portraits, women bathing, and ballet dancers—subjects that had come to define the older French artist's work.

When he moved to Paris in 1904, Picasso lived in the same neighborhood as Degas, though they apparently never met. Despite striking differences in character, they shared many preoccupations. Both were artistic revolutionaries, yet much of their work was based on the human figure and informed by their knowledge of the past. They were both superb draftsmen who also experimented radically with sculpture, printmaking, and photography. Picasso's interest in Degas even inspired a series of etchings, made late in his career, in which Picasso depicted Degas himself, a final act of homage to the older man.

Picasso Looks at Degas is the first exploration of Picasso's lifelong fascination with Degas's art and personality, and sheds light on the emergence of twentieth-century modernism by providing new insights into the multifaceted creativity of these two great artists.

Picasso Looks at Degas was organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and the Museu Picasso, Barcelona. It is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, and with the special cooperation of Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte.

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Pablo Picasso, "Standing Nude," 1907. Oil on canvas. Museo del Novecento, Milan (8750). © 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/ARS, New York