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January 25, 2005

Eye Candy

Ballet School.jpg

Ballet School
by Edgar Degas
(1834-1917)

Many art critics like to classify the works of various artists into categories. However some artists such as the French painter, (Hilaire Germain) Edgar Degas, are not quite true to the category they have been assigned. Listed as an impressionist, Degas's paintings seem an alternative to the classic impressionist style, thus marking him as a individualist in his craft.

Edgar Degas was born on July 19th, 1834 into an affluent Paris banking family. As a young man, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. While there, he developed the great drawing ability essential to his style. Originally painting classic academic subjects, Degas switched after 1865 to more of his age's contemporary themes.

Although linked with the impressionists, Degas was not fascinated as were others by the influence of natural light and did most of his work within his studio. His work seemed to stem from the humanistic experience as he paintings depicted such horse racing, circuses, the theater, and ballet. He was painstaking in his desire to capture his subjects, particularly women, in natural poses of movement and grace. His work could be compared to that of many modern day artistic photographers. He was also later captivated by a study of Japanese prints of which style seemed to influence his later work. He used the Japanese idea of asymmetrical design often using an object to set the subject to the side of a painting. An example of this would be Woman with Chrysanthemums (1865, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) where the female subject is pushed into one corner by a bouquet of flowers.

Late in life, Degas began losing his eyesight, and with this loss resorted to a change of medium. He began working with sculpture and pastels. His sculpture was noted for its inherent movement and his pastels for their simpleness of subject with little in the way of complex backgrounds. This work, although very different than his earlier paintings, also has gained a notoriety of its own largely from its use of simple design or vibrant colors. Never really successful in life, Degas was largely discovered as a master after his death in 1917.

Biography via All About Artists.

Posted by Dan at January 25, 2005 03:09 PM

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