Degas, Danse, Dessin. A Tribute to Degas with Paul Valéry

On the centenary of his death, the Musée d'Orsay pays tribute to Edgar Degas (1834-1917) with an exhibition based around the little known work by the writer, poet and thinker, Paul Valéry (1871-1945).

The friendship between Degas and Valéry lasting more than twenty years resulted in an essay published by Editions Vollard in 1937, Degas Danse Dessin. Both intimate and universal, it conveys a poetic, fragmentary image of the painter’s personality and his art, and a kind of meditation on the creative process.

In the exhibition, documents on display and archival documents show these men and their social interaction. Degas’ numerous drawings and Valéry’s famous notebooks reveal the importance of these works, which were, for both, the crucible of their art.

The main themes explored in the exhibition Degas Danse Dessin are expressed by linking extracts from Valéry’s essay to the graphic works, paintings and sculptures of Degas.

This resonance between text and images offers an insight, by turns, into the artist’s drawing and his fondness for the worlds of dance and horseracing, which Valéry links to his own search for line and movement.