"Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec" - new exhibition at the Tate Britain

Edgar Degas' classical ballerinas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's lusty cancan girls share the stage in a new exhibition at the Tate Britain.

"Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec," which opens Wednesday, focuses on the vibrancy of city life in Paris and London at the end of the 19th century, its brothels, bars and theaters.

The paintings, drawings, pastels and lithographs depict the quickening pace of metropolitan life at a time when Paris and London were developing as major cities, the AP reports.

Many capture chaotic street scenes. Rapid streaks of paint show the dynamism and movement of the time _ emblematic both of rapid change in modern cities and of a new, emerging style in modern painting.

Degas, known for his painting, pastels and sculptures, is the exhibition's pivotal figure. He experimented with cropping, unusual angles and off-center composition to create a sense of spontaneity. These techniques are reflected in paintings by his colleagues and contemporaries, many of them _ including Sickert _ admirers of the reclusive Degas.

Several of Degas' well-known works of ballerinas are on display, including "Two Dancers on the Stage" and "The Rehearsal." Degas frequented the back corridors of the Opera in Paris, painting and drawing the young dancers as they practiced.

Sickert's paintings of nudes, many of which are on display, show his attempts to modernize how the human figure is depicted. His works show women in intimate situations _ washing their hair, reclining on a bed and dressing in front of a mirror.

Degas' "L'Absinthe" launched a heated press controversy when first displayed in 1893. The painting shows not only the poisonously alcoholic green drink but also two people who are addicted to it. Both Degas and Sickert loved the artificial world of theater, and Sickert frequently painted stage scenes. "The P.S. Wings in the O.P. Mirror" shows a single girl in a red dress on stage in front of a crowd of onlookers.

Although Toulouse-Lautrec was Parisian, he spent a great deal of time in London, where he was known primarily for his posters and commercial work.

A traveling dance troupe commissioned his "La Troupe de Mademoiselle Elegante." The poster shows a group of cancan girls in full skirts and feathered hats, set in front of a yellow background. The exhibition will run until Jan. 15. AM

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