|Degas, The Star, 1878|
|Degas, Dancers Bending Down, 1885|
I’ve seen two incredible exhibitions recently that have changed my mind about artist Edgar Degas— Birth of Impressionism at the Frist in Nashville and The Modern Woman at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Before these shows, I associated Degas solely with his idealized images of ballerinas above. It always bothered me how he depicted these girls as soft, innocent and sweet when in actuality dancers are tough as nails and their lives can be pretty brutal. So I was surprised to see the Degas paintings below that portray a less glamorous side of life—a girl getting a pedicure that doesn’t exactly look spa-like and an unflattering angle of a woman bathing. These images may not be particularly striking given our standards today, but they were painted at a time when people largely viewed art as an escape from banality. Flowers, seascapes and haystacks were popular subjects, not reminders of mundane daily life.
|Degas, The Tub, 1886|
|Degas, The Pedicure, 1873|