At first glance of his paintings, one might see Degas’s art as elegant and brilliant, much like any other artist. But behind each painting lies a deep story that, even to this day, marks Degas as a genius.
Opening February 11th, the Denver Art Museum is exhibiting lesser known works of art by the famous impressionist, Edgar Degas. Not only does it feature some of his more famous works, such as “Dance with Bouquet” or “The Conversation”. However, the exhibit was carefully curated with sketches and drawings that emphasized his pursuit for perfection. Along with other reporters from the Denver Post, CBS, and Comcast, I attended a special press day.
“Making an exhibit is like making a movie,” Christopher Heinrich, the director of the Denver Art Museum, said, referring to the wide rooms full of paintings. “There are over 100 works on display, here at the Denver Art Museum, from lenders all around the world! It takes a lot of work to make sure everything is perfect and in place.”
From the first exhibit, it was evident that Degas had a “passion for perfection”. There were charcoal sketches of some of his famous paintings, all meticulously sketched over and over until Degas was satisfied with his work.
Timothy Strandring, the curator of the Degas exhibit, believed that Degas’s determination to create to the best of his ability is what made him different from other artists. “Leaving unfinished art with marks was one prime signature of Degas. Degas preferred adjustments to his drawings, aiming constantly for perfection. Usually, he would have 20-25 different sketches of one painting. He was curious and inventive in the media.”
Not only did Degas aim for flawlessness, he also invented many new methods of art that were unique during his age. For example, I’essence was an invention of Degas. Essence, which means gasoline in english, was a gasoline mix that allowed Degas to create more pigment and thin out the excessive oils of his paint.
“Degas made a good living. He was a well respected artist, and he never really had to sell his paintings. He actually never wanted to sell his paintings, because they were very special to him, especially in the later years when he was losing his eyesight.”
In the last couple of decades of his life, he turned more to sculpting rather than painting, despite the fact that he didn’t consider himself a sculptor. In the last twenty years of his life, he sculpted, but when he did paint, he tried to include as much color as possible. Unfortunately, his eyesight got so bad that from the age of 78 until his death, he only made sculptures.
“We hope children will learn that art is unique. To find yourself in art, you must immerse yourself, even if you don’t really understand it. I want kids to go home and paint and create with a passion like Degas. The Denver Art Museum hopes that kids will come away from this exhibit wanting to become artists.”
The tickets for “Passion for Perfection” have already sold out the first day, so make sure to visit the Denver Art Museum as quickly as possible!