Degas

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By Bernd Growe

Most commonly associated with the birth of the Impressionist movement in mid-19th-century Paris, Edgar Degas (1834–1917) in fact defied easy categorization and instead developed a unique style, strongly influenced by Old Masters, the body in motion, and everyday urban life.

The elder scion of a wealthy family, Degas cofounded a series of exhibitions of “Impressionist” art, but soon disassociated himself from the group in pursuit of a more realist approach. His subjects centered on the teeming, noisy streets of Paris, as well as its leisure entertainments, such as horse racing, cabarets, and, most particularly, ballet. With often ambitious, off-kilter vantage points, his images of ballerinas numbered approximately 1,500 works, all deeply invested in the physicality and the discipline of dance.

Through illustrations of Foyer de la Danse (1872), Musicians in the Orchestra (1872) and many more, this book provides an essential overview of the artist who resisted categorization but created a category of his own, a world of classical resonance, bold compositions, and an endless fascination with movement, which together produced some of the most striking and influential works of the era.

Each book in Taschen’s Basic Art series features a detailed chronological summary of the life and oeuvre of the artist, covering his or her cultural and historical importance, a concise biography, and approximately 100 illustrations with explanatory captions.

Hardcover, 96 pages

Dimensions: 8.5 x 10.5 x 0.5 inches

“In art, nothing should look like chance, not even movement.” — Edgar Degas

The Detroit Institute of Arts holds several works by Degas in its collection, including paintings Jockeys on Horseback Before Distant Hills, 1884; Dancers, c. 1897; Violinist and Young Woman, c. 1871; and the sculpture Spanish Dancer, 1900.