Edgar Degas, Group of Dancers (Red Skirts), 1895-1900

Edgar Degas, Group of Dancers (Red Skirts), 1895-1900, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Edgar Degas, born on July 19th, 1834, in Paris, France! Although today he is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, Degas would probably not be so thrilled about that. Not only did the artist not want to conform to one particular style, but he also did not categorized himself with the movement, although he did exhibit with the Impressionists for all of their eight show, between 1874 and 1886. Coming from a wealthy, aristocratic family, Degas did not feel the economic pressure to create work, therefor, he was free to explore his craft and experiment with style. At the age of 20 Edgar traveled to Italy, and while staying there for three years with his aunt’s family, the Bellellis, became fascinated with the old masters, making copies of works by Titian, Leonardo, and Michelango, to name a few. At this time, Degas seriously considered a career in history and biblical painting. It is interesting to note that Degas’ biggest influencers were Eugene Delacroix and Jean August Dominique Ingres, two rivaling artists with completely different approaches. While Delacroix put a strong emphasis on color and movement, Ingres was a master of linework and precision of form. These two artists’ influences can clearly be seen within Degas’s work, especially when the artist found his angle by capturing dancers in motion. Until 1870s Degas was really struggling to find his own artistic voice, experimenting not just with Historicism, but with portraiture and the Impressionist’s signature “plein air”, however, it wasn’t until Degas started to paint dancers did he finally discover his niche. Degas always sought to portray a human body in an almost unnatural position, as if catching a glimpse of the dancers in motion. Edgar’s body of work differs from the Impressionists in a way that as opposed to working mainly with landscapes and portraits of other Impressionist artists, Degas’ output saw more bold outlines and colors, as well as bodies in motion and portrayal of unconventional beauty and outlook on the real world around him. Pictured here is Edgar Degas, Group of Dancers (Red Skirts), 1895-1900, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 

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