Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Degas and the Nude at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

Blush in the Nude
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

Edgar Degas, La Toilette (1884-86) Private Collection
Although Degas is best known for his frothy depictions of ballet dancers, the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston offers a rare survey of the more PG-13 and R rated artworks in his oeuvre. The academic study of the nude figure was necessary for Degas to draw his realistic ballet dancers; however, this collection of art, which largely remained within the artist's own private collection, shows examples of brothel scenes, pornographic depictions of prostitutes with their clients as well as the more demure bathers.

Degas and the Nude thru Feb. 5, 2012
at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
In the large pastel paintings as well as oil paintings, Degas poses his models from the back to make them anonymous. The backgrounds are filled with the objects of everyday life such as a sink, tub, and other intimate accoutrements of grooming.

The brothel scenes are done in an intimate size as monotypes. These small works are beautifully framed and quite erotic showing both prostitutes with their clients as well as enjoying each other without them.

Two Bathers on the Grass, about 1895
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
*Paris, Musée d'Orsay
Many of the dancer paintings we are familiar with were created from live nude models. Degas added the tutus later. His work with the nude continues throughout his life largely unexhibited and unexamined.  The influence of modern masters, Matisse and Picasso, can be seen in these later works. In the end, Degas loses all pretense of depicting women in modern life and showing his nude women in a realistic scenes, such as bathing, and shows the nude women on abstract color planes.

See related blog post: Degas Day Trips

Fine Art Nudes by SchulmanArt for sale online!
Personally, I have painted and drawn from the nude figure as it is usually part of most serious portrait artists training and continue to do so. I got my start selling online by listing my life drawings for sale. I am please to announce the opening of a new online shop to sell fine art prints from my female nude watercolor paintings. Now you have the opportunity to own a signed fine art print, or an original watercolor painting or nude drawing.