The unknown sides of Degas
The oeuvre of Edgar Degas (1834–1917) is wide-ranging and complex. His proximity to the Impressionists in the Paris art scene, and the recognizable Impressionist influences in his work, can be misleading. Even the pictures for which Edgar Degas is best known exhibit a clear handling of line that is untypical of Impressionism. Degas experimented with different media all through his career. Printmaking, drawing, photography and sculpture are just as much part of his oeuvre as painting.
The Edgar Degas exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, and its accompanying catalogue, introduce us to an artist whose much-loved ballet scenes represent just one facet of a far broader, but less well-known oeuvre. Focusing upon the artist’s late work (1886–1910/12), the catalogue invites us to rediscover the rich spectrum of Degas’ expressive means and the artistic virtuosity of this bold pioneer of modern art.
The catalogue centers for the first time in comprehensive depth upon the variety of media in which Degas worked, and upon the full breadth of his pictorial themes. It thereby highlights the unique delight in experimentation so evident in Degas’ late oeuvre, together with his obsessive creative desire, freed from the idea of representation as likeness.
Texts and essays by Martin Schwander, Carol Armstrong, Jonas Beyer, Richard Kendall, and Mareike Wolf-Scheel illuminate the richness and radicality of Edgar Degas’ late work.