Object Image

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.

Credit: Gift of Countess Helen Naselli in memory of Harry Wardman

Ca. 1916-1918
Bronze on marble base
80.4 x 35.3 x 30.2 cm
1972.168
Image and text: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2024

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