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Home / ARTISTS
Edgar Degas
French
1834-1917

Edgar Degas

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Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was a French Impressionist painter. He was born in 1834 in Paris, France. His father was a banker, and his family was wealthy, so Degas received a good education from an early age. In 1852, Degas started to learn painting. Later, when Degas met Ingres, Degas kept his advice in mind: "Young man, if you want to make a name for yourself, you must sketch, draw from memory and sketch, and draw more lines."

 

Artistic Career

There are three stages of Degas' artistic career. The first stage was from 1852, when he learned to paint, until 1867 when he changed his style. As a young man, Degas was influenced by the neoclassical art of Ingres and copied a large number of Renaissance paintings, becoming an accomplished master of sketching. He always showed a serious and classical style in his work, and his use of line reached a level of refinement and sophistication that was unmatched even by Ingres' many followers. In 1860, Degas came into contact with the Japanese art of Ukiyo-e printmaking, and his subsequent works were heavily influenced by it.

 

The second phase was from 1868 to 1880, when various new trends of Impressionism influenced Degas. In 1868, when Degas was 34 years old, he met many other Impressionist painters and was then influenced by various trends, and his paintings began to change dramatically in terms of subject matter and technique. He became interested in horse racing, ballet, and other "modern" things in Parisian society at the time and began to relax in his use of line, forming a passionate, leaping line in his paintings. Degas spent most of his life painting dancers, including around 1,500 paintings, drawings, crayons and sculptures. He was not the only artist to repeatedly depict the same or similar subjects; Claude Monet used water lilies and Vincent van Gogh used sunflowers to express emotion. The fact that they painted a particular subject repeatedly provided them with a deeper understanding of the subject they painted.

 

The third phase was from 1880 to 1917, when Degas's eyesight deteriorated, and his lines became rougher. His main subjects in the phase were bathing women, and he began to create sculptures. In 1885, at the age of 51, Degas' eyesight began to fail, and by this time, he had already begun working on a series of paintings with washerwomen and bathing women as the subject. His temper also became increasingly arrogant and irritable. Perhaps due to both physical and psychological effects, Degas' painting style became more spirited and rugged, which in turn gave him more freedom and relaxation in his painting.

 

Painting Style

Degas' works break many "rules" by not having a single primary focus but rather choosing several secondary points of interest that allow the viewer's eye to jump from place to place. He used pastels and oil sticks more often because they are faster than oil paints. On the other hand, pastels and oil sticks give paintings a stronger impact and create thicker lines that have a sketch-like effect. Dynamics are a feature of many of his subjects, such as dancers, racehorses, and so on. The composition of his paintings enhances the dynamics of the figures, and Degas' paintings can be seen more in the classical, realist, or romantic style, a style that has influenced other painters as well.

 

Representative Paintings

Degas' works on ballerinas represent his contribution to Impressionism and the world of painting, which earned him the title of "The Painter of Dancers". The Dance ClassDancers in blue and Ballet Rehearsal are all Degas' works. Using the dancers' movements as a medium, he deliberately pursued the expression of light and color. His innovative compositions, meticulous depictions, and thorough expression of movement make him one of the masters of late 19th-century modern art.

 

 

Quotes

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."

 

"Beauty is a mystery, but no one knows it anymore. The recipes, the secrets are forgotten."

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