Degas en noir et blanc
Dessins. Estampes. Photographies
Valérie Sueur-Hermel, Flora Triebel, Henri Loyrette, Sylvie Aubenas, Nathalie Muller
Bibliothèque Nationale De France, 2023
The catalog of the exhibition “Degas in black and white”, which will be held from May 31 to September 3, 2023, at the National Library of France, offers an original approach to the work of the artist, painter, engraver, photographer, through his passion for black and white which made him affirm in 1906: “If I had to redo my life, I would only do black and white.”
“If I had to redo my life, I would only do black and white”, Degas would have declared to Georges Villa in 1906. A paradoxical declaration on the part of an artist who then mainly owes his glory to the colorful enchantments of his pastels.
Honored in 2023 at the National Library of France, this tireless passion of Degas for black and white is not limited to his activity as an engraver but is expressed through all the means of expression he uses. practice: drawings in graphite mine, pencil, charcoal, etching, lithography, monotypes but also painting and photography. As Henri Loyrette, general curator of the exhibition, points out, this interest is confirmed over the full extent of his long career, from the mid-1850s to the beginning of the 20th century.
The catalog reveals the continuity of this melodic line, easily perceptible throughout Degas’ work, which is as much about revisiting the same themes (snapshots of modern life captured at the Opera or in café-concerts, the intimacy of interiors bourgeois or brothels) than to their resonance from one technique to another. Valérie Sueur-Hermel’s essay dedicated to “Degas, master of impressionist printmaking” precisely shows his insatiable technical curiosity, his taste for the engraver’s “kitchens”, which he shares with Camille Pissarro and Mary Cassatt. Marcellin Desboutin, in the summer of 1876, even went so far as to write that Degas had become a “zinc or copper plate blackened with printing ink”. The taste for the single proof will lead Degas to reinvent the monotype, which is located on the borders of printmaking and painting, and of which he becomes an unequaled master. IN FRANS!