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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Edgar Degas exhibit at the Tampa Museum called counterfeit

The Works of Edgar Degas is part of what the Tampa Museum calls the French geniuses bronze sculptures. They will be on display until June 19th but there is controversy surrounding the exhibit.

Jacksonville artist Gary Arseneau says, unfortunately, the Degas bronzes are not the reproduction of anything he did. Arseneau calls the Degas bronze collection one of the largest art frauds in the 20th and 21st century. Arseneau points out that Degas was dead when the works were made so he never saw the art on display in the museum today.

It all began two years after Degas died in 1917. His family had someone make a wax copy of sculptures that he had done of cloth paint brushes and other materials. Degas used those as models for his paintings. From the wax the family made after Degas died, a second generation of bronze forgery was created. From that bronze a 3rd generation of forgery bronze was made and Degas' signature was added.

Arseneau says what people are seeing is the interpretation of what Degas' work would look like if he were alive to cast it in bronze.

Todd Smith, the director of the Tampa Museum of Art, agrees that every sculpture that will be on display was created after Degas died. He says all the Degas bronzes that exist in the world were done posthumously.

While Smith admits what Arseneau says is true, he says it is still accepted in the art world. Smith says, like other museums, the Tampa Museum is presenting the bronzes as posthumous castings of the wax models that Degas created.

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