Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beatuty at MOMA

Recently I went to NYC for my friend Mary Diodardo's opening at Kathryn Markel Fine Art (see April 5th post). While in New York I was fortunate to see the new MOMA exhibit, Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty.

Edgar Degas, Landscape with Rocks (1892).Photo: Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibit is about monotypes as well as experimentation, transformation and repetition. And, because monotypes are one of my favorite forms of printing, well, I was over the moon! Through his monotypes, Degas captured the idea of movement and created new ways to portray urban life of the 19th Century. It's a wonderful exhibit dedicated to how his experimental mark-making used in creating monotypes freed him from tradition. The exhibit focuses on Degas's process of exploring/manipulating materials and includes more than 120 monotypes together with related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and prints.

One of the fun things about the exhibit are the magnifying glasses made available. They encourage the viewer to look closely at each image  - see the wonderful details of Degas's fingerprints and smushes.  Look, see how his landscapes are created with a swipe of his finger.

The exhibit also shows how Degas often would pull two or three impressions of the same plate, this leads to a degradation of the image with each print.  The image would be the same but different.  Often he would use the second and third images as an under-layer for pastels.

I came away so inspired by Degas' process and his passion for materials and experimentation.  I'm heading into the studio to make some monoprints!

Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints organized the exhibit with Karl Buchberg, Senior Conservator, Heidi Hirschl, Curatorial Assistant, The Museum of Modern Art, and Richard Kendall, independent art historian and curator.

Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty runs through Sunday, July 24, 2016. I hope you get to see the exhibit.


You can read about my monoprint experiments in a previous post, The Art of the Monoprint - The Process (April 22, 2015).

A definition: A monoprint or monotype is created by applying print ink or paint directly to a plate. A single print is created by transferring an image that has been painted onto a plate and transferred to paper. Or, you can cover the plate with ink/paint and selectively remove the ink/paint to create an image. It's about process and experimentation. It is a spontaneous technique that lends itself to immediacy and experimenting with a wide variety of materials, papers, transfer techniques and plates. A monoprint is often used as a starting point to rework and revise the original image.