In today’s NYTimes article “An Unblushing Career of Undressing Women” Karen Rosenberg takes a look at the show “Degas and the Nude,” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She suggests the show explores how to Degas, “the academic nude, the prostitute, the dancer and the bather were essentially the same woman. The naked body was a constant; what changed, from picture to picture, was society.”

Society continues to change and as time marches on the historical art relics we hold so dear begin to change to us. Any student of Art History 101 knows in the art world context is used to explain everything. We absorb details about the lives, times and technology that these past great minds lived and operated in. What we increasingly fail to look at, however, is how theses pieces can still speak to us without the trappings of “meaning” or the rationalization of history.

How will we as emerging arts leaders deal with our artistic past? When we present complicated or historic works that were created in times so different from our own are we required to present extra information to explain to our audiences how to react? What to feel?

I’m glad for a glimpse at this side of Degas, often we allow our audiences to pigeon hole great artists past by their most popular and palatable work instead of viewing them within the context of our time as well as theirs.

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