Degas: A Strange New Beauty by Jodi Hauptman
4to. pp. 240. profusely illustrated. hardcover. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2016.
New in publisher's shrink wrap.
ISBN-10: 1633450058 / ISBN-13: 9781633450059
A towering figure in 19th-century art, Degas is best known as a painter and chronicler of the ballet. Yet his work in monotype reveals the true extent of his restless experimentation. In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process, a technique in which the artist draws in ink on a metal plate that is then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Degas embraced the medium with enormous enthusiasm, inventing a new repertoire of mark-making that included wiping, scraping, scratching, fingerprinting and rendering via removal. The resulting works are characterized by enigmatic and mutable forms, luminous passages emerging from darkness and a heightened tactility. Taking the monotype process to radical ends, Degas explored a variety of subjects, including city dwellers in motion; harshly illuminated cafe singers, ballet dancers on and offstage, women in intimate settings; and evanescent landscapes. With this medium, Degas is at his most modern, liberating drawing from tradition, depicting the body in new and daring ways, and boldly engaging the possibilities of abstraction. Published to accompany an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this richly illustrated catalogue presents approximately 120 monotypes along with some 60 related works, including paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks and prints. Essays and detailed studies by curators, scholars and conservators explore the creative potency of Degas' rarely seen monotypes, and highlight their impact on his wider practice. Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was a French painter, draftsman, printmaker and sculptor celebrated for his scenes of modern life, from the cabaret concert to the racetrack to the ballet, the subject for which he is best known. Academically trained, Degas emulated old master and 19th-century predecessors; at the same time, he embraced radically new subjects, compositions and techniques.