Kevin Briggs Photography

Edgar Degas as Early Experimental Photographer and Printmaker

Kevin Briggs
National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art

The Wall Street Journal reports today something of which I was unfamiliar: that Edgar Degas was "an early enthusiast of photography — guests complained of being forced to pose after dinner," and that further "he employed the new medium, at least occasionally, as the basis for his art."

Degas was surely one of the most passionate artists of his time. "As a sculptor, he disregarded conventional methods... As a collector, he acquired, among countless other works, everything he could by the Neoclassicist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, drawings and watercolors by the Romantic Eugène Delacroix, and innumerable drawings by the realist illustrator Honoré Daumier, as well as one of the few canvases sold from Paul Gauguin’s exhibition of works from his first sojourn in Tahiti."

Degas also experimented with monotypes "[occupying] a strange territory between painting and printmaking... Powerful as Degas’s monotypes of figures are, the most surprising works... may be the landscapes. Made in the early 1890s, and sometimes based on shadowy second pullings, they are unusual for using color and astonishing for their economy and directness."

High Gallery of Art

High Gallery of Art