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Video transcript

worth the Musee d'Orsay and we're looking at Karpos the dance which had been commissioned in 1865 by Garnier for the exterior of the new Opera House that was being built under Napoleon the third this is the moment when Paris is being reborn as the modern city that we now know it as there's no way not to feel thrilled when looking at this sculpture I mean it just expresses such joyousness and pleasure superest yeah representing dance but there's none of that sense of discipline and rigor that one would think about with classical ballet which was what was being performed at right at our house it's almost out of control we have this figure that represents dance it's wildly flinging his hands and arms up with a tambourine she's right and the genie the allegorical figure representing dance and his five nymphs dancing in a circle around him breaking out of the space of the sculpture in a way that I think of as very baroque in its occupation and utilization of space and maybe because it was broke and it was not neoclassical the sculpture actually received a lot of negative criticism and it was part of the sort of the naturalism and they the honesty of the body and its pleasure but also the way that it broke beyond the bounds of the space that it should be defining you can see how it didn't look like an idealized neoclassical culture the figures are grinning and if there's just a emotional quality here that you don't get in neoclassical itself it's really a runny looking having such fun and and their hair flying back there's a real sense of wind and atmosphere and movement even the way the genie of dances wings and drapery flutter back but this amazingly complex composition that he makes look really simple I think you know you mentioned before that the nihms that these women are circling the genie and we certainly see it as as a circle but they're also brought forward and so so it's not really a circle and what carpeau is able to do is achieve two things simultaneously he's able to create that ring around the genie and we really do get that sense at the same time there's this wonderful kind of intimacy between the figures and this kind of pleasure of their bodies together and that's the collapsing of that circle you have a figure springing forward vertically and then from the base of the sculpture two figures that fan out diagonally it's incredibly unstable know it kind of comes down on that upside-down pyramid there is a really delicate balance the centrifugal force of the figures is in danger of rowing them outward towards us but their hands are class maybe just enough to hold it together right so we're seeing this as this exuberant expression of pleasure and energy and the creative the dance but when the sculpture was first put on the building people were upset in fact so upset that somebody actually threw a bottle of ink at it now the sculpture has long since been cleaned and it was brought inside in 1964 to protect it from the elements that's right because of course the air pollution and the acids in the atmosphere we're starting to wash away the sculpture and start to really dull its lines and you can sort of see especially on the left side some of the real damage to the sculpture but it still retains all of its energy of its beauty and all of its playfulness