Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ABC Wednesday

D is for Degas

[French Realist/Impressionist Painter and Sculptor, 1834-1917]

At the Café-Concert: The Song of the Dog 

 Singer with Glove

Portrait of Mary Cassatt

ABC Wednesday is here


  1. The man could paint, couldn't he? This collection has some that don't fit with my memories of Degas' work. For example, the top one looks a bit like something by Toulouse Lautrec. And the nude at the bottom doesn't look Degas-like at all. Almost Gaugin-esque. And, hey, don't we need a bronze of the Little 14-Year Old Dancer? Nice collection.

  2. Perfect choice for the letter D. You really have shown us Degas's style. Thanks.

  3. Ah, you got me today! Degas is one of my favorite! Terrific selection of his works and what a great D for the D Day! I love it! Hope your week is going well, Gina!!

    ABC Team

  4. Just loving the different artists you are bring to my attention. These are quite magnificent. The nude bending over is an interesting coposition.

  5. Wonderful D post - lovely selection of paintings!

  6. What a wonderful selection of The Man's work, ranging from obviously representative to absolutely unattributable - that last one was indeed a shot out of the blue, I'd never have guessed it to be a Degas!

    But my favorite by far is that of the woman washing the washtub. It's brilliant both in terms of luminosity and conception, and brought me to tears.

    Thanks again for being my art muse, Gina. My life would have been so diminished without you in it.

  7. nice pics.
    my late father played guitar, so I'm particular drawn to that.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  8. I so love Degas' work for the textures, tones and unusual animation of the characters! Wonderful!

  9. Thank you for yet another art lesson. Would ove to go to a real gallery with you as my guide.


  10. I can't say it better than Jack and TCR and everyone else. Great contribution to our learning and enjoyment on D-day!
    HelenMac, ABC Team

  11. Jack - I tried to choose some lesser known works by Degas. That first painting is new to me - I absolutely adore it. Degas could paint singing like no one else.

    Which casting of the tiny dancer? I've seen the one at the Clarke countless times and there is one at the Met, I believe. I wanted to include her, and the horse castings, but I didn't want to make the post too long. Thanks for your visit. BTW - we may be visiting the atheneum this weekend.

    CR - thank you. You are too kind.

    Everyone - thanks for the feedback!

  12. The following quoted comment is actually from my friend Steve Emery, whose message would not otherwise get to us:

    With Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Degas wins my greatest admiration for composition. The two of them do the most remarkable things with the spaces BETWEEN everything. The paintings are marvels of seemingly random and cropped figures where the arrangements make things happen in my head and heart without any direct reference. Like the best poetry - perfectly capturing without every actually stating.

    Very few objects or paintings, to me, could not be improved in some way by moving or changing something. It's a mental game I play with EVERYTHING. Move that to the right, make that smaller, remove that, add this, tone that down, pump that up... The entire world and all it contains can be visually edited and improved. But some people can arrange furniture, or fruit, or images on canvas in a way that NOTHING can be changed without diminishing the whole. And then Degas and Toulouse Lautrec carry that one step further by making those perfect compositions in the most unexpected and unpredictable ways, making the empty spaces the stars of the show. I have spent more time in front of their paintings than those of anyone other artists, and it's because I mentally grapple with them, like Jacob wrestling the angel, exhilerated that they need NOTHING and yet they give so much. Some truly make me gasp in amazement - I have turned heads in galleries because I made the sound without thinking.

    The woman in the sponge bath (which struck CR so hard - I'm right there with you, brother) is a case in point. She is so beautifully posed, positioned, and colored - and none of it is what you would ever expect. It makes one weep to see something carried so far towards perfection and yet looking as effortless as a casual sketch. Her body is balanced believably, with weight and volume, and yet her form plays the most amazing games with the shape of the edge of the painting. That's another wonder of their work, these two masters, the way they engage the edge of the canvas. In the case of this canvas, it's done without actually touching the edge. In others it's done by severing the figures with the edge. It's incredible to see how often and how variously they do this.

    Towards the end of Degas' life his eyesight was a problem, and he could only continue to paint with pastels. He wet them, getting effects and textures that I have never seen in any other pastel drawings. That last piece lokks to me like it is from that period, and it's doubly moving to me - like a Renoir painted in his late old age with paint brushes strapped to his totally useless arthritic hands. They continued until it was physically impossible. They could not imagine anything else.
    As always - thanks so much for sharing these.

    And what an amazing comment it is.
    I am humbled. Sending a hug and lots of smiles.


  13. I'm sorry I arrived late to see this post but it was also most auspicious because I got to read Steve Emery's wonderful comment. He's right about all of it of course.

    I'm so grateful you found this amazing selection of Degas to show on your wonderful blog.

    Sometimes I imagine myself as a musician in the back row of the theatre feeling incredibly blessed to simply listen to Yehudi Menuhin play.

  14. Love impressionism...just my absolute favorite....It almost feels like spring is in the air when you think of impressionistic paintings! The woman taking the spongebath....fantastic!

  15. Summer Girls - yessssssssssss....let's think Spring with Impressionism!

    Thanks for stopping by!


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