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Jan. 8 Art Minute: Edward Steichen, "Isadora Duncan in the Parthenon, Athens"

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879–1973), Isadora Duncan in the Parthenon, Athens. Gelatin-silver chloro-bromide print, 1921. 19 3/4 by 14 3/16 in. Gift of The Apollo Society, 2002.13. In Canaday Gallery as part of the special exhibition Degas and the Dance, on view through Jan. 10, 2016

The founder of Modern Dance, Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) traveled the world promoting her ideas on free and natural movement, women’s rights, and dance as a “high” art. She was particularly interested in the simple, natural dances of the ancient world as represented by classical sculpture and Greek vases, dancing in free-flowing drapery, with bare feet and loose hair. Her dancing and her philosophy created a sensation, gaining her worldwide fame and making an impact on fashion and culture.

Edward Steichen, similar to Duncan’s crusade for the elevation of dance, championed photography as a fine art. In this majestic image, Steichen visually translates Duncan’s theories by photographing her in the ruins of the Parthenon, Athens. Steichen recalled, “she contributed what only an artist like Isadora could contribute. She made a gesture completely related to the columns.”