22 March, 2009

Weekend Away...with Degas

Dancer adjusting her slipper 1873 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / HO Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. HO Havemeyer, 1929 Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Over the Weekend we visited one of my most favourite places - the National Gallery of Australia [affectionately know as the NGA] in Canberra [Australia's National Capital - Territory] only 2.5 / 3 hrs drive south from Sydney. As a member of the gallery I try to visit several times a year and make a weekend of it.... and how could you not when the NGA brings some of the biggest and best exhibitions together from collections from all over the globe...here is a small taste of the exhibition 'Degas: Master of French Art'.

'The National Gallery of Australia’s exhibition Degas: master of French art spans the range of Edgar Degas’ work, from his early portraiture and historical subject matter, through his move to modern subject matter, and on to his late experimental paintings and photographs in the 1890s. It also examines the rich visual and literary sources that Degas drew upon in his early years.
A major exhibition theme is Degas’ transformation as an artist and his recurrent experimentation, leading to his mature and very distinctive style. It traces the development of his work from the finely crafted early paintings to those possessing a more brilliant palette and looser brushwork, and concludes with radical later works that include finger painting. This development made Degas an influential figure in the evolution of modern art — an artist whose work was admired and collected by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.'

For more about Degas and the exhibition of this phenomenal master of modern art click here.

'Degas: master of French art will also explore other relevant themes in Degas’ work, such as the influence of French caricature, japonisme, literature and the theatre. Through modelling wax figures of horses, ballet dancers and bathers (which were later cast in bronze), Degas was constantly searching for ways to depict movement and form. The relationship of his sculpture to his paintings and drawings is an aspect of this exhibition.
Degas was a consummate painter, draughtsman, print maker and sculptor, who in his later years also undertook experiments in the new medium of photography. Degas: master of French art will focus on all these arts and their interrelationships.'
Jane Kinsman - Senior Curator, International Art, and curator

DEGAS: the uncontested master by Jane Kinsman with Michael Pantazzi

Horses, ballerinas, laundresses are [Degas’] predilections and of all the things in the world which surround him seem to preoccupy him exclusively. But what truth there is in his draughtsmanship, and how astute is his understanding of colour. Jules-Antoine Castagnary, 1874
Born in Paris in 1834, Edgar Degas was considered a radical artist in his adoption of modern subject matter and he was to become a key figure in the evolution of modern art. Degas: the uncontested master covers the period from Degas’ early portraiture and historical subject matter of the 1870s through his move to modern subject matter, to his late experimental paintings and photographs from the 1890s until his death in 1917.

Bonjour Degas - a word book in English and French
This delightful book designed for children looks at details of paintings by famous 19th century French artist Edgar Degas. It includes his favourite subjects—ballerinas and dance classes, horses and riders, and people at work. You will discover the words for things in the paintings and for colours in English and French.

An fabulous extension of the Degas- Master of French Art exhibition was Degas' world: the rage for change
The exhibition Degas’ world: the rage for change is less specifically about Degas than the world he inhabited. It is about his fellow artists and friends—those who inspired him, and those he, in turn, inspired. As an exhibition it seeks to avoid the clichés of sweetness and light with which Impressionism has been interminably burdened. Instead, it is about the real world of nineteenth-century France.

International Art Collection-TOULOUSE-LAUTREC, Henri deFrance 1864 – 1901
La Clownesse assise: Mademoiselle Cha-u-ka-o [The seated clown: Mademoiseille Cha-u-ka-o] [La Clownesse assise. Mlle Cha-u-ka-o: from the album "Elles" [Ed 37/100]] 1896 from the album Elles [Womankind]Collection Title: EllesPrint, planographic Technique: lithograph, printed in colourImpression: 37/10052.8 h x 40.6 w cm Accn No: NGA 77.16.3

International Art Collection GRASSET, Eugene Switzerland 1845 – France 1917 La morphinomane [The morphine addict] 1897drawing pencil. Edition: uniqueimage 41.2 h x 31.2 w cm Purchased with the assistance of Orde Poynton Esq. CMG 1995Accn No: NGA 95.781
International Art Collection GRASSET, Eugene Switzerland 1845 – France 1917
France La vitrioleuse [The acid thrower] c.1896 Collection Title: L'estampe originale, Album VI, Arpil-June 1894Print, planographicTechnique: colour lithographImpression: 71/10040.0 h x 27.7 w cm 60.6 h x 44.0 w cm Gift of Orde Poynton Esq. CMG 1993Accn No: NGA 93.2045

Mark Henshaw who curated this particular exhibition I had the privilege of hearing him speak about some of the pieces in this exhibit and why he chose them...if you have the chance to stand in on any curator speak about their exhibited space I strongly recommend it - there are so many wonderful facets of the pieces and how they be brought together by the curator that you may never be able to understand on viewing alone. You can read Mark Henshaw's essay on the exhibit through this link . Mark Henshaw is the Curator of International Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books for the National Gallery of Australia.
All works in the exhibition Degas’ world: the rage for change are from the National Gallery of Australia’s International Print collection.

Also video trailers of the Degas exhibition - Master of French Art can be viewed here through this link.
Images from NGA

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