Philip Levine

  • Edgar Degas, Dancers in the Green Room, ca. 1879, oil on canvas, 16 1/4 x 34 1/2".

    the Detroit Institute of Arts

    ONE BRIGHT AFTERNOON in the autumn of 1948, my aesthetics professor, Raymond Hoekstra, marched his seven students three blocks to the Detroit Institute of Arts so that we might come to understand how rich our cultural inheritance was. After a minute of silence, as we stood before the Degas painting Dancers in the Green Room, ca. 1879, Dr. Hoekstra, a very proper little man dressed in his usual brown tweeds, asked if anyone could hear the music of the painting. When that drew a prolonged silence, he asked what in the painting first summoned our attention. When no one spoke, he called on me. (He