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Dancing Figure

ca. 1916-1918 Elie Nadelman Born: Warsaw, Poland 1882 Died: New York, New York 1946 bronze on marble base 31 5/8 x 13 7/8 x 11 7/8 in. (80.4 x 35.3 x 30.2 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Countess Helen Naselli in memory of Harry Wardman 1972.168 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, W310


Luce Center Label

This sculpture, titled Dancing Figure, was also titled Artemis, representing the Greek goddess of the hunt and the dawn. Elie Nadelman’s irreverent depiction of this deity as a common dancer shows how he tried to combine the look and themes of classical sculpture with American popular culture. For example, the sculptor combined ancient Greek motifs, such as the dancer’s wavy hair and almost masklike face with a modern pleated dress and theatrical pose. Nadelman shared the belief of mathematicians and physicists that waves were the most beautiful shapes, so he created Dancing Figure entirely out of curves, including the repeating flutes of her dress, the bands around her head and ankles, and her small fingers and feet.

Keywords

Figure female - full length

Performing arts - dance

sculpture

metal - bronze

stone - marble