Edgar Degas Essay

1077 words - 5 pages

Edgar Degas’, The Ballerina (oil on canvas) was produced in 1876 is now in the San Diego Museum of Art here in Balboa Park. This painting depicts Degas’ famous motif of ballerinas caught in moment as they practice their moves. There stands a lone ballerina in the center stage of the painting, completely dominating the canvas.
Degas uses dull colors, mostly brown beige and melancholy blue for her tutu, instead of the light pink he uses in his other portraits of the ballerinas. Her body is very much gravitated, depicted almost like a tree trunk. We can see his use of earthly colors in this painting, as it is dominated by different hues of blues and earthly browns. His use of light and shadow ...view middle of the document...

He wanted to catch the passing moment, emphasizing their unawareness. Degas mostly distanced himself and the audience from the painting, often with prominent chunks of empty floor-boards, which gave the audience a sensation that we were sitting something watching them rather than being involved in the process.
The mood of the painting is very somber as it uses dull colors and shadows. The lack of her face adds on to the mystery of the painting. It transcends the ballerinas, as it hints that it could be anyone caught in a candid moment. We often don’t appreciate the little moments in life, unless we stop and take the time to reflect on it. This painting underlies that message, as this identity-less ballerina keeps up with her daily routine, unaware of the beauty that she exudes even in the most mundane moments. We can feel Degas’ fascination with capturing these candid passing moments through his use of light and shadow and choice of colors, which allows us to understand the theme of the piece.
We studied a few pieces in class that also resonate the same motifs, themes and techniques used in Degas’ painting. The Impressionist movement captures modern urban subjects with upper middle class at leisure in different sceneries, mostly city person on a holiday. The artists painted "en plein air" outdoors in the open air because they wanted to capture the play of light quickly, before it changed. The movement aimed to capture the instantaneous impression and fleeting moment in paint, which perfectly fit Degas' ballerinas. In the mid 1870s he started painting modern life of Paris, especially the entertainers rather than the bourgeois audience. He wanted to depict dancers are dancers, but also suggest that they are laborers, workers who put their bodies in a serious strain and practiced for hours and days for their performance. He wanted to explore the pose and the movements of the human body, and he used a lot of viewpoints to capture the moment.
One piece that specifically resonate Degas’ motif and technique is Renoir’s Moulin de la Galette. This piece is rich...

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