Although Edgar Degas is best known for his lovely paintings of elegant ballet dancers and impressionistic landscapes, the artist also experimented with printmaking — a process explored through a number of rarely seen examples.
On view now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, “Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty” explores the artist’s experimental use of the monotype process — a printmaking technique that involves drawing in ink on a metal plate that’s run through a press. In addition to the excitement of seeing works by Degas, equally tantalizing is the fact that many of the selections — some 120 in total — have rarely been seen publicly. In addition to the monotypes, the exhibition features an 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and more — rounding out the exhibition as truly a monumental achievement.
Via the exhibition webpage, the museum reports, “In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process — drawing in ink on a metal plate that was then run through a press, typically resulting a single print. Captivated by the monotype’s potential, he immersed in the technique with enormous enthusiasm, taking the medium to radical ends. He expanded the possibilities of drawing, created surfaces with a heightened sense of tactility, and invented new means for new subjects, from dancers in motion to the radiance of electric light, from women in intimate settings to meteorological effects in nature. The show displays Degas at his most modern, capturing the spirit of urban life; depicting the body in new and daring ways; liberating mark-making from tradition; and boldly engaging the possibilities of abstraction.”
“Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty” runs through July 24. To learn more, visit the Museum of Modern Art.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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