MoMa Degas Art Exhibit
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a magical place, oozing with creativity and culture from wall to wall. Venture to the 6th floor, Special Exhibitions, and you’ll stumble upon Edgar Degas’ exhibition, which you don’t want to miss.
Degas, best known for his paintings, became engrossed by the monotype process in the 1970s, a technique of drawing in ink on a metal plate that’s subsequently placed through a press and produces a single print. He saw endless opportunities and seized: not only did he create original monotypes, he also took it a step further and used the medium as a starting point for images that could be reworked. What is most striking is Degas’ inclination to see art as a an ongoing process, rather than a completed piece. His passion for endless innovation and propensity to keep studying, testing and reinventing has made all the difference in how art was and is perceived. More than half of Degas’ work depicts dancers.
The must-see MoMA exhibit features 120 rarely seen monotypes, in addition to 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketches and prints.
The painting above, made from oil on canvas, encapsulates Degas’ interest in repetition and variation–lessons he learned from his monotypes. One of his largest paintings, we see four ballerinas in nearly identical poses. Can you tell that the two figures on the left are actually mirror images? With that in mind, you can start to see that the painting relates to time-motion studies, which was just emerging during his time.
Although the work appears to be a loose sketch, it is unknown whether it was a finished composition. Degas’ usual process included laying down areas of tone on canvas prior to filling it in with color. However, those close to him knew that he preferred to leave his work in black and white. “What can you do when everybody is clamoring for color?” he said.
More on Degas, the Artist
Like many artists, Edgar Degas began experimenting with art at a young age. At the ripe age of 18, he had turned his bedroom into an art studio, using the walls as his canvas. His father did not encourage him to pursue artistic inspirations; instead, he expected Degas to become a lawyer. Luckily for his fans, Degas only entertained that idea for two years before enrolling at Ecole des Beaux-Arts he studied drawing and conquering techniques of high academic and classical art.
Although you can tell a lot about someone from their art work and style, It can be a difficult thing to get to know an artist. We’ve compiled some interesting facts about Degas, to provide some context.
- Degas would practice his technique by copying paintings at the Louvre
- He became a soldier in the National Guard in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War
- He has less than perfect eyesight, which caused him struggles throughout the years
- His mother was an amateur opera singer
- Degas, Monet, Sisley and several others formed the Société Anonyme des Artistes (Society of Independent Artists) in 1873, and the subsequent year held the first Impressionist exhibition
- Degas never married