Degas' Method

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Exhibtion: 6.7. - 1.9. 2013
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek presents a groundbreaking exhibition addressing the complexities of Edgar Degas' (1834 – 1917) artistic methods. Degas' Method closely examines the approaches and preoccupations behind Degas' innovations, considering his works across their extraordinary variety. It challenges the conventional categorisation of his output by motif and media — into dancers, portraits,horses, landscapes; pastels, paintings, drawings and sculptures — approaching his oeuvre as a whole so as to better understand the nature of his originality. As one of only four institutions in the world to own a complete set of Degas' bronzes, as well as possessing major works in paint and pastel, the Glyptotek is in a unique position to address the tendencies in Degas' oeuvre which concerned him throughout his life.

Degas was a paradox. A depicter of contemporary life committed to creating a 'New Painting', he was also insistent on the importance of tradition, copying and responding to the works of past masters throughout his career,and superb draughtsmanship unites all his works. Degas' processes reward scrutiny. He changed the premises for painting and sculpture for good, anticipating many of the artistic developments of the twentieth century, especially in his determined examination of the figure, yet also renewing the genre of landscape. His methods were multiple, involving an enormous range of media and techniques which crossed over between painting, sculpture and printmaking, opening fresh terrain for invention. Images were physically built up in layers, their compositions sometimes manipulated over years, and motifs were approached again and again. It was through patient observation that he so convincingly depicted the body in movement, manipulating time and narrative sequence so that subjects are distilled from life rather than depicted: for Degas, who eschewed the Impressionist vogue of painting en plein airfor a resolutely studio-based practice of intense deliberation, art was always an artificial affair.

Degas' Method brings together masterpieces from the Glyptotek's permanent collection with an outstanding array of works borrowed internationally. Under the curatorship of Line Clausen Pedersen, the exhibition mixes together paintings, pastels, monotypes, lithographs and drawings, presenting very familiar pieces in dialogue with unusual works that evade categorisation, and allowing the interrelationships between Degas' treatment of different media to come to the fore. It looks at Degas' relationship to Impressionism, the movement to which he adhered yet differed substantially from; and also considers his art in the context of his colleagues across time, notably his idols Ingres, Delacroix and Daumier — works by whom formed part of his own personal collection. In one gallery, the display of sculptures and graphic work takes the intensity and heterogeneity of Degas'studio as its cue; elsewhere, conservation scholarship sheds light on the way in which Degas created his images, showing through infrared and x-ray analysis how one particular painting evolved over the course of two decades. What emerges both from the close study of individual works and across the spectrum of his output, is Degas' insistence on invention through continuity and on an art set free of obligations to reality — an art that is not about representation, but about the complexities of art itself.

Degas' Method continues the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek's policy of taking as its point of departure for exhibitions the meeting between works on loan and those from its own collection. It follows from Gauguin and Polynesia — an Elusive Paradise (2011), a thoroughgoing analysis of Gauguin's relationship to contemporary ideas of “the primitive”. Located in the centre of Copenhagen, the Glyptotek is one of the world's great art museums. It was built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen (1842-1914), which he donated to the state in 1888. The museum collections comprise more than 10,000 works of art, boasting exceptional collections of antique sculptures from the ancient Mediterranean cultures, Danish Golden Age paintings and French nineteenth century art, including works by David, Manet, Degas, Monet, Bonnard and Cézanne.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek will publish a catalogue accompanying Degas' Method with contributions from international specialists: Elizabeth Steele (Chief Conservator, The Phillips Collection); Daphne Barbour (Senior Conservator, Dept. of Object Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Washington); Shelley Sturman (Senior Conservator and head of the Dept. of Object Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Washington); Dr. Peter Parshall (formerly Curator of Old Master Prints at the National Gallery of Art, Washington and Professor of Art History and the Humanities at Reed College); Edouard Kopp (assistant curator of drawings at the J. PaulGetty Museum); Flemming Friborg, Director, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek; Line Clausen Pedersen, Curator, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek; and Josephine Nielsen-Bergqvist, Curatorial Assistant, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

Watch an introduction to Degas' Method below:


Degas' Methodis supported by
The Augustinus Foundation
and Ferring Pharmaceuticals

Press kit is not available for download

For more information

Pia Svejgaard Pedersen
Head of Communications / M: 6095 6949

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