Sunday, May 11, 2014

Degas, Degas and More Degas

I would generally say that it would be pretty hard to follow that magnificent 'newly discovered' (for me) work I spoke about in the last posting by La Touche . . . but . . . I LOVE Degas! So, around the corner and through the door and voila, there were several works by one of my most favorite artists. First stop, above, Cafe Singer caught my attention with its implied movement and beautiful lighting; slightly mysterious but very evocative of the cabaret atmosphere. I especially liked the way Edgar took a close in viewpoint of the singer with focus on that wonderful upturned hand.

The next two shinning examples of his love affair with the ballet, were worth several minutes of study. Though rather small works, each had a great pull and drew me into their captured moment in time. I loved the soft, muted pastel palette of each with just enough emphasis on the main subjects to bring them forward from all the other activity and, as noted in the closer details shown below this pair, I once again marveled at the simplified brush work. Being so interested in composition and balance as I tend to be, these two paintings showed so many aspects of well placed elements in each overall design and I read them as mirror images of one another in the way the main 'character' in each stood upon one of the horizontal third splits in the spacing of the rule of thirds - the dancer in the right hand work placed on the first third from the left and the main dancer in the left hand work placed on the first third from the right. A perfect pairing.

A close up, then, of one of the pair above (here on the left) and a detail of another of the wonderful works hanging in that gallery full of dancers shows the sweep of Degas' brush work that so excites me as an artist with lost edges abounding and just the right indications of hard edges to help define arms and shoulders and facial elements. 
When I'd had my fill of Degas, not someone easily moved away from, I found myself moving back in time . . . artistically speaking . . . as I landed in front of this wonderful work of Gustave Courbet, The Rock of Hautepierre. Courbet was, perhaps, the best known of the 'Realist' painters, that group of mid 19th Century artists whose work acted as a forerunner to the Barbizon School and later on into the Impressionist era. In this particular work, I really was taken with its similarity to one of the landscapes of Cezanne that I posted earlier. The palette was similar and the brush work and soft modeling of the elements reminded me very much of Cezanne's vista of southern France and I had to pause and reflect that maybe Cezanne had indeed, studied this work or similar at some point sometime later.

Two smaller works (seen below) on another gallery wall caught my eye and as I approached them noted both by Jean Francois Millet, who painted at the same time as Courbet and was one of the founding artists of the Barbizon School which again, helped to lead into the Impressionist period.

Another work from the same approximate time frame as that of Courbet and Millet (below) by Eugene Fromentin, caught my eye due to its very interesting and unique composition. I am not that familiar with Fromentin but as this work really spoke to me, more research will be done for sure.

The last work for spotlight today (below) is by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, the leading exponent of the Barbizon School of painters. His feathery handling of the elements of the landscape that he so loved to paint, prefaced the Impressionist's expansion of that approach to painting both in studio works and en plein air.

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