Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Revealing all

No 19th-century artist paid closer attention to the naked female form than Edgar Degas. Yet none seemed to harbor such complicated feelings about women.


From the 1870s until about 10 years before his death in 1917, Degas knocked out one magnificently drawn, gauchely posed female nude after another. Only the means and the materials changed - charcoal, pastel, paint, monotype, lithograph, clay, pastel on monotype, and so on.

These now look like some of the greatest nudes in the history of Western art. Picking up on cultural currents that were gaining momentum in the mid-19th century, Degas aggressively stripped away centuries of idealization, sentimentality, and pomposity to reveal the female form as it was.

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