Commissioned in 1930, Spirit of the Dance was created by William Zorach for the newly designed Radio City Music Hall in New York. Although he had originally intended the work to be thirty-six inches high, as seen here, the scale of the setting for which it was destined inspired him to enlarge it by three times and to cast it in the modern material of aluminum. The sculptor created a second version in bronze (now at the Portland Museum of Art). After learning that Spirit of the Dance had been deemed “immoral” and removed from view at Radio City Music Hall, Zorach exhibited the large plaster model for the work at other venues in New York. Spirit of the Dance became a sensation. The work was soon reinstated at Radio City Music Hall, and Zorach responded to this “tremendous amount of acclaim and notoriety,” as he recalled the public response in his 1967 autobiography, by editioning the work in two sizes.
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