This online gallery is based on a 2011 exhibition titled "Degas and the Nude," and allows students to explore the way in which Degas conceived the nude and situated it in a more broad and modern context among his peers in nineteenth-century France.
Description: The nude figure was critically important to the art of Edgar Degas, from the beginning of his career in the 1850s until the end of his working life. But the subject has never before been explored in a museum exhibition. Degas and the Nude calls attention to the artist’s evolving treatment of the nude, from his early years, through the era of Impressionism, to the triumphant nudes of the 1880s and the monumental figures of the last decades of his working career. This exhibition was on view from October 9, 2011 - February 5, 2012 in the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery.
The exhibition, along with this accompanying online gallery, present works in every medium that Degas practiced: drawings, both academic and experimental; paintings made for official exhibitions and those never shown to the public in his lifetime; pictures in pastel, the medium most often associated with Degas; sculpture, first conceived in wax or modeling clay and shown here in faithful bronze casts; printed media, including etchings, lithographs, and the monotype format that he revived and mastered; and—in one example—photography.
Degas and the Nude provides a new interpretation of the artist’s conception of the nude, and situates it in a broader context among his peers in nineteenth-century France. Above all, the works on view here reveal how, in Degas’s hands, the most classical of subjects was transformed into the most modern—how the artist moved from the contemplation of the past to the realization of a still powerful present.
In exploring this lesson, students will:
- Consider the various ways in which Degas treated and conceptualized the nude throughout his working career.
- Explore the evolution of the treatment of the nude, from classical to modern.
This discovery will require students to:
- Look closely at the art and make statements grounded in their observations.
- Consider and discuss the different mediums that Degas utilized in his works in this exhibition.
Using this Resource:
- Visual art teachers and students will be interested in the wide variety of mediums that Degas used in his portrayals of the nude, as well as his evoltionary conception of the nude throughout his working career.
For sample related classroom activities, download the PDFs available under "Related Resources."
The objects in this lesson are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web source -- or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries -- to look for other objects that will provide further insights into the art of Edgar Degas.