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Poussin and the Dance


J. Paul Getty Museum / Los Angeles / Art

It was only a matter of time before the work of Nicolas Poussin, the foremost painter in the French Baroque style, would be viewed through the prism of movement. His well known work of 1633–34, The Adoration of the Golden Calf, shows sinners gaily dancing around Aron’s idol. This exhibition embraces Poussin’s capture of physical flow, his currents of emotional flow, by focusing on paintings with dance scenes. Half-naked women whirl across the canvas. Roman tunics flutter. Limbs form elegant arabesques. To create these marvelous scenes, Poussin tested compositions with wax figures in toy theaters, rehearsing time and time again. The paintings and the wax figurines that inspired Poussin are on view here, tracing his choreographic journey from marble to paper to oil paint. —E.C.

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