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Photography in motion

Edgar Degas and Gerhard Richter were born almost 100 years apart, yet their work demands comparison, argues Sebastian Smee. Two major new exhibitions reveal the artists’ shared obsessions

By Sebastian Smee   October 2011

Degas’s images often resemble snapshots, but works such as The Rehearsal (1874) were painted before cameras could take instant photographs

Degas and the ballet: Picturing movement Royal Academy, 17th September to 11th December, Tel: 020 7300 8000

Gerhard Richter: Panorama Tate Modern, 6th October to 8th January, Tel: 020 7887 8888

Think what it took to take a photograph in 1890. Imagine a big, cumbersome camera, and then all the necessary paraphernalia: the tripod, the heavy plates, the chemicals, the black shroud. Then, too, the difficulty of getting the light right, and the necessity of making one’s subject—a ballet dancer,…

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