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Degas: A Passion for Perfection

Degas: A Passion for Perfection showcases prolific French artist Edgar Degas’ works from 1855 to 1906. More than 100 works consisting of paintings, drawings, pastels, etchings, monotypes, and sculptures in bronze are on view. The exhibition focuses on the most prominent and recurring themes throughout Degas’ 60-year career. These include his interest in learning from the art of the past and from that of his contemporaries, a lifelong fascination with the nude, a passion for horses, and his strong interest in opera and dance.

Well-known masterpieces are on view, and the exhibition dives deeper into Degas’ obsession with repetition of subjects throughout his entire artistic journey. Visitors will see his transformation from a portraitist and painter of historical subjects to one interested in the contemporary life of late-nineteenth-century Paris. By experimenting constantly throughout his career he developed techniques that allowed him to capture modern subject matter through sharp and precise lighting, such as café concerts, street scenes with new electric lighting, sporting events, and theatrical settings. He considered his work in all media a constant continuum. Works by J.A.D. Ingres, Eugène Delacroix, and Paul Cézanne also are shown, adding depth to the exhibition’s narrative.

The DAM is the sole American venue for the exhibition. Degas: A Passion for Perfection is presented and organized in association with the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, England, whose Degas holdings represent the most extensive in the United Kingdom across the various media in which Degas worked. The exhibition is organized by Jane Munro, Keeper of Paintings, Drawings and Prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum, and curated locally by Timothy J. Standring, Gates Family Foundation Curator at the DAM.

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