Sitting on the train to Boston, on my way to see “Degas and the Nude”at The Museum of Fine Arts, I experienced feelings of trepidation. What would be the curatorial angle of the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the French artist and his take on the female form? As someone who’s kept a despairing eye on the ways in which art is coerced to serve contemporary fashion, I feared Degas would be saddled with some or other theoretical imperative. Chalk it up to cultural paranoia, but, having recently suffered a colleague’s argument that one-point perspective is a tool of capitalist oppression, I was primed for a Dead White Male smackdown.

Imagine my surprise upon opening the exhibition catalogue and reading that George T. M. Shackleford and Xavier Rey—respectively, the MFA’s Chair of the Art of Europe...


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