Edgar Degas “A Strange New Beauty”

The Museum of Modern Art

poster for Edgar Degas “A Strange New Beauty”

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Focusing on Process and Experimentation, the Exhibition Shows Degas at His Most Modern and Innovative

The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art Gallery, sixth floor

With the major exhibition Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty, The Museum of Modern Art brings new focus to Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s (French, 1834–1917) extraordinary and rarely seen monotypes and their impact on his wider practice. On view March 26 through July 24, 2016, it is the first exhibition in the U.S. in nearly 50 years to examine these radical, innovative works—and MoMA’s first monographic exhibition of the artist. Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty features approximately 120 monotypes along with some 60 related works, including paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and prints. Organized by Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints; with Karl Buchberg, Senior Conservator; and Heidi Hirschl, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art; and Richard Kendall, independent art historian and curator. MoMA is the sole venue for the exhibition.

A towering figure in 19th-century art, Degas is best known as a painter and chronicler of the ballet. Yet his work as a printmaker reveals the true extent of his restless creativity, as he mixed techniques with abandon in his studio and shared recipes with colleagues for producing unconventional effects. The monotype process involves drawing in black ink on a metal plate that was then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Captivated by the medium’s potential, Degas made more than 300 monotypes during two discrete bursts of activity, from the mid-1870s to the mid-1880s, and again during the early 1890s.

In his monotypes, Degas is at his most modern, capturing the spirit of urban life, depicting the body in daring ways, liberating drawing from tradition, and engaging the possibilities of abstraction. Whether focused on method or theme, Degas’s insistent searching resulted in what the poet Stéphane Mallarmé saw as “a strange new beauty.” Reflecting a spirit of relentless invention and restless improvisation, a deep curiosity about the behavior of materials, a penetrating eye, an affinity for strategies of repetition and seriality, and an incisive understanding of the history of art, Degas’s efforts in monotype not only bridge the fin de siècle, but look forward to developments in the 20th century and beyond.



from March 26, 2016 to July 24, 2016


Edgar Degas

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