Friday, May 1, 2009

Edgar Degas – Nudes for everyone or you rather race a horse?


Degas – poor with high expectations from his parents – sounds like a perfect recipe to become famous artist. The one thing he had on his side is his death. In his lifetime he sold only one artwork to a museum, but there are many, not as fortunate artist, that sold none during their lifetime, and now their art sells for millions of dollars. So why is Edgar Degas famous anyway?

There are many ways to interpret his popularity after death but it is better to start with his life. He was 'all over the place' – paintings, sculpture and pastels. He picked probably a passion and topic that was not so popular at the time – history paintings. The thing that worked against him the most is his believe that an artist could have no personal life. Combination of these factors worked very much against him plus, as any artist knows, you need a little bit of luck on your side and he probably had none. But then the competitions was pretty tough too, Monet as one of them, and impressionism was still new.

Edgar Degas made it, too late, but still... It gives hopes to other artist out there, and it is sounds more and more like 'Forest Gump' life story. In the end, many years later, when many artworks were lost to social cataclysms or end up in private collections, there were not so many left, and eventually some artcritic or a good businessman came across Degas work and decided that they are as good as any and can compete with well known artist at the time. Sculptures, Dancers, Horses and other art, which was not covered much by other artist, this was the perfect opportunity to present his work as unique and "one of a kind".

In the end Degas is known for his dancers, horseracing, sculpture and nude artwork, but during his life he was always leaning towards history paintings. Every artist would like to be famous, but "do you rather be famous for who you are or what people are told you are?" Better to be famous whichever way than being no one, but civilization is not over yet, and who knows there might be another artist around the corner that will be "it" soon.

Art is strange, fascinating, dangerous, exciting and wrong subject to write about, because there is no right, no wrong and no maybe – it's just art – someone makes it someone not, someone sells, someone not, someone is not an artist and not famous and someone is an Artist and not... Too many unknowns but one thing is certain it is ART.

Sincerely,
Mikhail Onanov
Artist

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