Artist of the Month

 Time to Shine! The Center for Performing Arts  4375 Woodbine Road, Pace, Florida 32571  850.994.5678  info@timetoshineflorida.com

>Edgar Degas

Recognized as an important artist by the end of his life, Degas is now considered “one of the founders of Impressionism,” though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries. He is best known for his works depicting common life, especially those of dancers.

Early Life and Training

Edgar Degas was the eldest of five children of Célestine Musson de Gas, an American by birth, and Auguste de Gas, a banker. Edgar later changed his surname to the less aristocratic sounding “Degas” in 1870. Born into a wealthy Franco-Italian family, he was encouraged from an early age to pursue the arts, though not as a long-term career. Following his graduation in 1853 with a baccalaureate in literature, the 18-year-old Degas registered at the Louvre as a copyist, which he claimed later in life is the foundation for any true artist, but his father expected him to go to law school. He enrolled but made little effort in his studies. In 1855 he met Jean Auguste Ingres, whom he revered. In April of the same year, he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied drawing and flourished. In 1856, he traveled to Italy and studied there for three years refining his technique in classical art. In 1864, he met Edouard Manet, who by chance was copying the same painting. His friendship with Manet was instrumental in the development of Impressionism. The following year, Degas exhibited at the Paris Salon, the first of six consecutive showings. At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Degas enlisted in the National Guard, where his defense of Paris left him little time for painting. During rifle training his eyesight was found to be defective, and for the rest of his life his eye problems were a constant worry to him. After the war, Degas began an extended stay in New Orleans, Louisiana, where his brother René and a number of other relatives lived. Staying in a house on Esplanade Avenue, Degas produced a number of works, many depicting family members. One of Degas’ New Orleans works, depicting a scene at The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans, garnered favorable attention back in France.

Approach to Art and Subject Matter

Always remembered as an Impressionist, Edgar Degas was a member of the seminal group of Paris artists who began to exhibit together in the 1870s. He shared many of their novel techniques, was intrigued by the challenge of capturing effects of light and attracted to scenes of urban leisure. But Degas’s academic training, and his own personal predilection toward Realism set him apart from his peers, and he rejected the label Impressionist, preferring to describe himself as an “Independent.” His inherited wealth gave him the comfort to find his own way, and later it also enabled him to withdraw from the Paris art world and sell pictures at his discretion. He was intrigued by the human figure, and in his many images of women—dancers, singers, and laundresses—he strove to capture the body in unusual positions. Degas’s enduring interest in the human figure was shaped by his academic training, but he approached it in innovative ways. He captured strange postures from unusual angles under artificial light. He rejected the academic ideal of the mythical or historical subject, and instead sought his figures in modern situations, such as at the ballet. Technically, Degas differed from the Impressionists in that he never adopted the Impressionist “color fleck” and he continually belittled their practice of painting en plein air. Degas himself explained that “no are was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters.” Nonetheless, he is described more accurately as an Impressionist than as a member of any other movement. His scenes of Parisian life, his off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists, all related him intimately with the Impressionist movement. By the late 1860s, Degas had shifted from his initial forays into history painting to an original observation of contemporary life. Racecourse scenes provided an opportunity to depict horses and their riders in a modern context. He began to paint women at work, milliners and laundresses. Mlle. Fiocre in the Ballet La Source, exhibited in the Salon of 1868, was his first major work to introduce a subject with which he would become especially identified, dancers. In many subsequent paintings dancers were shown backstage or in rehearsal, emphasizing their status as professionals doing a job. Degas began to paint café life as well. He urged other artists to paint “real life” instead of traditional mythological or historical paintings, and the few literary scenes he painted were modern and of highly ambiguous content. http://www.theartstory.org/artist-degas-edgar.htm https://www.edgar-degas.org/biography.html

Artist of the Month

>Edgar Degas

 Time to Shine! The Center for Performing Arts  4375 Woodbine Road, Pace, Florida 32571  850.994.5678  info@timetoshineflorida.com
Recognized as an important artist by the end of his life, Degas is now considered “one of the founders of Impressionism,” though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries. He is best known for his works depicting common life, especially those of dancers.

Early Life and Training

Edgar Degas was the eldest of five children of Célestine Musson de Gas, an American by birth, and Auguste de Gas, a banker. Edgar later changed his surname to the less aristocratic sounding “Degas” in 1870. Born into a wealthy Franco-Italian family, he was encouraged from an early age to pursue the arts, though not as a long-term career. Following his graduation in 1853 with a baccalaureate in literature, the 18-year-old Degas registered at the Louvre as a copyist, which he claimed later in life is the foundation for any true artist, but his father expected him to go to law school. He enrolled but made little effort in his studies. In 1855 he met Jean Auguste Ingres, whom he revered. In April of the same year, he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied drawing and flourished. In 1856, he traveled to Italy and studied there for three years refining his technique in classical art. In 1864, he met Edouard Manet, who by chance was copying the same painting. His friendship with Manet was instrumental in the development of Impressionism. The following year, Degas exhibited at the Paris Salon, the first of six consecutive showings. At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Degas enlisted in the National Guard, where his defense of Paris left him little time for painting. During rifle training his eyesight was found to be defective, and for the rest of his life his eye problems were a constant worry to him. After the war, Degas began an extended stay in New Orleans, Louisiana, where his brother René and a number of other relatives lived. Staying in a house on Esplanade Avenue, Degas produced a number of works, many depicting family members. One of Degas’ New Orleans works, depicting a scene at The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans, garnered favorable attention back in France.

Approach to Art and Subject Matter

Always remembered as an Impressionist, Edgar Degas was a member of the seminal group of Paris artists who began to exhibit together in the 1870s. He shared many of their novel techniques, was intrigued by the challenge of capturing effects of light and attracted to scenes of urban leisure. But Degas’s academic training, and his own personal predilection toward Realism set him apart from his peers, and he rejected the label Impressionist, preferring to describe himself as an “Independent.” His inherited wealth gave him the comfort to find his own way, and later it also enabled him to withdraw from the Paris art world and sell pictures at his discretion. He was intrigued by the human figure, and in his many images of women—dancers, singers, and laundresses—he strove to capture the body in unusual positions. Degas’s enduring interest in the human figure was shaped by his academic training, but he approached it in innovative ways. He captured strange postures from unusual angles under artificial light. He rejected the academic ideal of the mythical or historical subject, and instead sought his figures in modern situations, such as at the ballet. Technically, Degas differed from the Impressionists in that he never adopted the Impressionist “color fleck” and he continually belittled their practice of painting en plein air. Degas himself explained that “no are was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters.” Nonetheless, he is described more accurately as an Impressionist than as a member of any other movement. His scenes of Parisian life, his off- center compositions, his experiments with color and form and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists, all related him intimately with the Impressionist movement. By the late 1860s, Degas had shifted from his initial forays into history painting to an original observation of contemporary life. Racecourse scenes provided an opportunity to depict horses and their riders in a modern context. He began to paint women at work, milliners and laundresses. Mlle. Fiocre in the Ballet La Source, exhibited in the Salon of 1868, was his first major work to introduce a subject with which he would become especially identified, dancers. In many subsequent paintings dancers were shown backstage or in rehearsal, emphasizing their status as professionals doing a job. Degas began to paint café life as well. He urged other artists to paint “real life” instead of traditional mythological or historical paintings, and the few literary scenes he painted were modern and of highly ambiguous content. http://www.theartstory.org/artist-degas-edgar.htm https://www.edgar-degas.org/biography.html