Kay’s Journal: Degas

Kay Adams

I spent a sensuous and delicious morning with Edgar Degas last Friday. A beautifully curated collection, Degas: A Passion for Perfection is in town at the Denver Art Museum.

I knew Degas from his ballet portraits and scenes, and some of his “women bathing’ pieces were ancillarily familiar. I was instantly immersed in those and also the other two modalities featured in this exhibit–his portraits of horses and the way he captures ordinary people in everyday moments (conversing, sipping coffee, being pensive). The common denominator in most of Degas’ work is movement — he captures with brushstrokes the trot of a horse, the tying of a ballet shoe, the small gesture of impatience in a conversation.

I was inspired by his creative process, so familiar to me as visionary and creator. From the exhibit notes:

Degas’ development as an artist was driven both by his yearning to discover the secrets of the Old Masters and his desire to be an independent artist of his own making. He often abided by rules before breaking them, producing during his early career a body of work with a strong foundation in drawing and painting…. Degas was determine to succeed on his own terms by blurring the boundaries of traditional media and pushing them to extremes. He excelled both as a colorist and a draughtsman and met the challenges of new subject matter with experimental techniques. Degas invented an oil medium known as l’essence… and took his mark-making to new extremes….

Quotations from and about Degas were affixed to the exhibit walls. Some of them have been repurposed as your Prompt Jar prompts this week.


Comments always welcome!


2 Responses to Kay’s Journal: Degas

  1. Lynn D. Morrissey April 24, 2018 at 2:54 pm #

    I love Degas. Our Saint Louis Art Museum had a marvelous exhibit on his various paintings featuring women in hats. I say “marvelous,” even though unfortunately I didn’t get to see it. But my friends loved it. We have several of his paintings and a wonderful sculpture of a young ballerina, who stands in the number two dance position. She stands fearlessly, yet gauchely on the brink of young womanhood. The exhibit you saw sounds marvelous, as well, and the perfect getaway to feed your creative spirit. I’ll send you the website of Victor Wang, a prominent Chinese artist, who was one of Sheridan’s teachers at university. Like Degas, he has learned well from his classical foundations, only to break the rules. He does so imaginatively, powerfully, and beautifully. Our daughter still pinches herself to think that she was privileged to study with him! Can’t wait to read the prompts . . . and moreover to write from them. One surely must look at everything . . . and write about it, too! 🙂 Kay, I love this quote, as well, by well-known abstraction artist Georgia O’Keefe said, “One paints what is around.” I write what is around too! In fact, often my journal entries begin with “what is around.”

    All my best!

  2. Kay Adams May 25, 2018 at 1:58 pm #

    Lynn, a delight to read your riff on Degas and the artistic life. LOVE LOVE the O’Keefe quote. “One paints (writes) what is around.” Oh yes! I’m going to try your prompt “What is around…..”

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