It’s the centenary of the death of Edgar Degas.
Degas exhibited paintings along with the Impressionists, yet refused to fall under their house-style. Always maintaining his independence and individual way of looking, the artist is responsible for some of the most recognisable works in the history of art, and for good reason. His attention to detail, painstaking draftsmanship and move away from the traditional academies of Europe and their insistence on history painting and mythology solidifies his importance.
While Degas is recognised as one of the most significant and influential painters of the Impressionist period, in recent times his work has been questioned and in some cases derided by feminist art critics. It’s often postulated that his work (particularly the intimate scenes of the bathers) is voyeuristic and objectifying. It’s hard to fan this thought away, particularly when the artist himself fanned the flames by stating that he wanted to capture the bathers as though through a keyhole. Indeed, Degas is prime territory for writings on the ‘male gaze’.
Check out our article on the ‘female gaze’ here.
So how do we look at Degas today?
We look at him the way we look at Picasso – we divorce the work from the person. Of the seven most important women in Picasso’s life, 2 killed themselves and 2 went mad. His polygamy and maltreatment of ‘his women’ is well documented. But, we shouldn’t boycott all those masterpieces because of his personal life. The same goes for Degas. Appreciate the use of colour, the composition, the light, the emotion, the grandeur of it all.
Princeton University Art Museum
This June it’s ‘Flowing’ month here at Cent, so why not indulge in some Ballet? Here are our top picks.
Royal Ballet – The Dream / Symphonic Variations / Marguerite and Armand
Sadler’s Wells – Horror – Jakop Ahlbom Company