10 Aug 2013

Soak it up! The Story of Degas’ Sponge.

Degas was a well-known miser so some people might still think of him as a sponge. That would be appropriate. Artists don't always handle brushes; they use anything that works, sponges included. A selection sold for use by artists is illustrated (above right). Degas, for instance, might well...

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26 Mar 2013

When Degas made a boob ...on purpose

In a new entry published today you can see for the first time ever how Edgar Degas turned his friend, Edouard Manet (above), into the driver of a carriage holding his whip as a paintbrush flecked with white paint. He then transformed the artist's coat into a single-breasted jacket.1 The...

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20 Mar 2013 | 2 Comments

How Degas drew a top hat…

Art is so pregnant that even in a "simple" sketch like Degas' Edouard Manet at the Races (c. 1865) there is always something more. I thought I had drained the drawing when I finished writing about it yesterday (see entry). And, then, this morning I suddenly noticed Manet's halo! Degas has drawn...

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09 Mar 2013

Proust’s and Degas’ Disappearing Models

Literature and its methods are a useful yardstick by which to judge our knowledge and understanding of the visual arts. For instance, the known fact accepted by literary critics that many friends and acquaintances of Marcel Proust, the great French writer of the early 20th century, thought they...

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27 Feb 2012

Degas on Reflection and the Great Masters

At the entry to a small, mildly interesting exhibition of Rembrandt’s engravings and their influence on Degas, the Metropolitan Museum has highlighted the following quote:

“What I do is the result of reflection and the study of great masters.”        Edgar Degas

That will not surprise...

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04 Feb 2012

Physiognomy and Every Painter….

In the previous entry we saw how Degas’ beloved Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is partly modelled on the physiognomic ideas of Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) and others. I mentioned this because Lavater also wrote: “Every painter paints more or less himself. As one is, so he paints.” His...

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01 Feb 2012

Degas’ Disgusting Ballerina

When Degas’ much beloved Little Dancer Aged Fourteen was first exhibited in 1881, it was greeted with fear and disgust. One art critic wrote that Degas had selected a model “among the most odiously ugly; he makes it the standard of horror and bestiality.” Another added that “the vicious...

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18 Mar 2011

Face Fusion is Everywhere

For years I’ve been rattling on about face fusion to demonstrate that portraits by true artists are not what they seem. Many are not accurate depictions but a fusion of features from different faces, often the artist’s own. Salvador Dali, for instance, practiced face fusion but called it...

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