Here are some famous Edgar Degas quotes by the French Impressionist painter.
Who was Edgar Degas?
Edgar Degas, born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar de Gas, was a renowned French artist who made significant contributions to the Impressionist movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Degas was born on July 19, 1834, in Paris, France, into a prosperous family. His father was a banker, and his mother came from a family of Creole descent.
Degas initially studied law but eventually turned to art, enrolling at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. There, he received a traditional artistic education and became skilled in drawing and painting. Degas was influenced by the works of the Old Masters, particularly Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and drew inspiration from classical art and sculpture.
During his early career, Degas experimented with different styles and subjects, including historical and mythological themes. However, he found his true calling in depicting contemporary life, especially the urban scenes of Paris. Degas became known for his ability to capture fleeting moments and portray the essence of modernity in his works.
One of Degas’ most notable contributions to art was his portrayal of ballet dancers. He depicted them both on and off the stage, showcasing their grace and athleticism. Degas had a keen eye for movement and often depicted dancers in various poses, capturing their fluidity and dynamism. His ballet series remains some of his most iconic and celebrated works.
Degas was also fascinated by the world of horse racing and frequently depicted racecourses, jockeys, and horses in his art. He explored the theme of movement and the interaction between humans and animals, often portraying them in action-filled scenes.
In addition to his paintings, Degas was a skilled draftsman and printmaker. He experimented with different techniques, such as pastels, etchings, and monotypes, which allowed him to create unique and expressive works. Degas’ use of pastels, in particular, became a hallmark of his style, and he achieved remarkable depth and vibrancy in his pastel works.
Despite being associated with the Impressionist movement, Degas had a distinctive approach to painting. He focused more on line and structure rather than the atmospheric effects of light and color, setting him apart from his fellow Impressionist painters. His compositions often had unusual perspectives and cropped viewpoints, giving a sense of immediacy and intimacy to his art.
In his later years, Degas faced vision problems, which limited his ability to paint. Nevertheless, he continued to produce art, exploring new subjects and mediums. He turned to sculpture and created a series of small-scale wax and clay figures, primarily focusing on dancers. These sculptures revealed his mastery of form and movement and showcased his innovative approach to three-dimensional art.
Edgar Degas passed away on September 27, 1917, in Paris, leaving behind a vast body of work that continues to inspire and captivate art enthusiasts around the world. His artistic contributions, particularly his portrayal of modern life and his innovative use of pastels, have had a lasting impact on the art world, solidifying his place as one of the most influential artists of the 19th century.
Edgar Degas’s Contribution to Art History
Edgar Degas made significant contributions to art history, particularly through his involvement in the Impressionist movement and his innovative approaches to painting, drawing, and sculpture. His unique vision and artistic techniques have had a lasting impact on the art world, influencing generations of artists and shaping the course of modern art.
Degas was a key figure in the Impressionist movement, which emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction against the academic art establishment. The Impressionists sought to capture the fleeting moments of modern life and the effects of light and color on their subjects. While Degas shared certain interests and techniques with his fellow Impressionists, such as plein air painting and a focus on everyday life, he also had distinct characteristics that set him apart.
One of Degas’ notable contributions was his exploration of new perspectives and unconventional compositions. He often used unusual angles and cropped viewpoints, presenting his subjects in a way that challenged traditional conventions. This approach added a sense of immediacy and dynamism to his art, inviting viewers to engage with the scenes in a more intimate and personal way.
Degas’ keen observation and ability to capture movement and gesture were remarkable. He had a deep interest in the human figure, particularly dancers and horse racers, and his works often showcased their grace, agility, and energy. Through his depictions of ballet dancers, both on stage and in rehearsal, Degas revolutionized the representation of the human form in motion, emphasizing the fluidity and dynamism of the body.
In addition to his mastery of painting, Degas was an exceptional draftsman and printmaker. His drawings and pastels are characterized by their precision, sensitivity, and expressive power. Degas’ use of pastels, in particular, became a signature element of his style. He achieved remarkable depth and vibrancy in his pastel works, often using them to explore light and color effects.
Furthermore, Degas was an early adopter of photography, which influenced his composition and framing choices. He incorporated photographic elements into his works, such as cropped viewpoints and the suggestion of movement frozen in time. This experimentation with photography as an artistic tool was innovative for his time and contributed to the development of new visual language in painting.
Later in his career, Degas turned to sculpture, creating a series of small-scale figures primarily focusing on dancers. His sculptures demonstrated his exceptional understanding of the human form and his ability to convey movement and gesture in three-dimensional works. Degas used unconventional materials, such as wax and clay, and often left his sculptures unfinished, emphasizing the process of creation and the artist’s hand.
Beyond his technical innovations, Degas’ contributions to art history lie in his ability to capture the essence of modern life and the human experience. His works reveal the everyday realities of Parisian society, from the bustling streets to the private spaces of dancers and bathers. Through his art, Degas captured the complexities of human relationships, the beauty in mundane moments, and the fleeting nature of existence.
Edgar Degas made significant contributions to art history through his involvement in the Impressionist movement and his innovative approaches to painting, drawing, and sculpture. His exploration of new perspectives, his emphasis on capturing movement and gesture, and his mastery of pastels and unconventional materials all contributed to his lasting influence. Degas’ ability to convey the essence of modern life and his deep understanding of the human form continue to inspire and resonate with artists and art lovers around the world.
Famous Edgar Degas Quotes
- “We are living in a strange era, it must be admitted. This oil painting that we undertake, this very difficult craft that we practice without understanding it!”
- “One certainly needs courage if one is to approach nature”
- “I have seen some very beautiful things through my anger, and what consoles me a little, is that through my anger I do not stop looking”
- “We were created to look at one another, weren’t we”
- “One sees what one wants to see. It is false, and that falsity is the foundation of art”
- “There is a kind of shame in being known especially by people who don’t understand you. A great reputation is therefore a kind of shame”
- “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do
twenty-five. The difficult thing is to have it at fifty”
- “I have done so many of these dance examinations without having seen them that I am a little ashamed of it”
- “I should like to be famous and unknown”
- “Art is vice. You don’t wed it, you rape it”
- “A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people”
- “People call me the painter of dancing girls. It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes”
- “Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things”
- “You must aim high, not in what you are going to do at some future date, but in what you are going to make yourself do today. Otherwise working is just a waste of time”
- “I would rather do nothing than do a rough sketch without having looked at anything. My memories will do better”
- “If I could have had my own way, I would have confined myself to black and white”
- “And even this heart of mine has something artificial. The dancers have sewn it into a bag of pink satin, pink satin slightly faded, like their dancing shoes”
- “There is a kind of success that is indistinguishable from panic”
- “Muses work all day long and then at night get together and dance”
- “The creation of a painting takes as much trickery and premeditation as the commitment of a crime”
- “Do it again, ten times, a hundred times. Nothing in art must seem to be an accident, not even movement”
- “I want to be famous but unknown!”
- “I am thirsting for order”
- “So that’s the telephone? They ring, and you run”
- “I am a colorist with line”
- “I assure you no art was ever less spontaneous than mine”
- “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”
- “Beauty is a mystery, but no one knows it anymore. The recipes, the secrets are forgotten”
- “New things capture your fancy and bore you by turns”
- “Success! Success! The enemy of progress!”