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By Imogen Baker
December 15, 2015

An Epic Degas Exhibition Is Coming to Australia

The French Impressionist who took us into bars, saloons and backstage.
By Imogen Baker
December 15, 2015

As a treat to us for being such good eggs (or so we like to think), the National Gallery of Victoria are hosting a huge exhibition next year featuring the works of French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces.

The exhibition will run from June 24 to September 18 at the NGV International and is comprised of over 200 works by Degas, from collections the world over. For those of you who don’t know, Degas is a pretty big deal in the art world and practiced during the late 1800s-early 1900s. At a time when many artists where still painting posed works, Degas and a sect of bohemian Parisian artists (including Honoré Daumier and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec), were cultivating the first big art movement that focused on candid impressions of subjects en plein air (meaning in ‘open air’ style, as opposed to in the studio or from memory). A lot of his pieces feature ballerinas and inevitably, this did lead to a lot of lurking around backstage at the ballet and, in Lautrec’s case, in a tonne of brothels (for the artistic potential, surely).

Degas’ work also focused on an infrequently explored subject: the everyman. Blue collar workers in their natural habit where a recurring and novel theme in his work; French Impressionism tapped into that vein of human curiosity that makes reality TV so popular (“They’re just like us!”). Degas actually rejected the Impressionist mantle and referred to his style as realism, so intent was he on representing the world around him. In fact, according to art historian Carol Armstrong, Degas said “No art was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters; of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament, I know nothing". Well damn. We can’t wait to check it out.

Degas: A New Vision will be displayed at the National Gallery of Victoria International from June 24 to September 18, 2016.

Image: Edgar Degas, In a café (The Absinthe drinker) 1875–76, oil on canvas, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Lemoisne 393, © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Martine Beck-Coppola.

Published on December 15, 2015 by Imogen Baker

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