Art Exhibit

Degas: A New Vision Opens at MFAH

Curator Gary Tinterow shares the scoop on the largest retrospective of the impressionist artist.

With Olivia Flores Alvarez October 19, 2016

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Edgar Degas, The Dance Class, c. 1873, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (William A. Clark Collection).

Sorry New York and Los Angeles, but Houston is the only American stop for Degas: A New Vision, a landmark exhibition of the French artist Edgar Degas. The exhibit, co-curated by MFAH director Gary Tinterow and former Louvre director Henri Loyrette, boasts 230 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and photographs, including never-before-seen works.

In 1988, Tinterow, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Loyrette, at the Grand Palais in Paris, along with the late Jean Sutherland Boggs of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, organized Degas. It was Tinterow’s continued friendship with Loyrette and their shared interest in Degas that led to the organization of the Degas: A New Vision exhibition.

Tinterow, despite his familiarity with the artist’s work, says he’s astounded by the impact of A New Vision. “It’s greater than I imaged it could be. It’s truly extraordinary.”  

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Edgar Degas, Racehorses in a Landscape, 1894, pastel on paper, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

He finds several aspects of the exhibit surprising, like the variety of mediums—as most people associate Degas only with paintings—and the artist's use of extremely vibrant hues. “The color of the late works are often florescent or neon and that was quite unusual at the turn of the 20th century to have such strident color,” says Tinterow.

While Degas’s paintings and portraits will be familiar to most viewers, his photographs and prints are lesser known. His variety in mediums and range in subject matter—including spectators at horse races, men and women at work and in casual society—speaks to Degas’s wide interests and abilities.

There are several related events planned for the duration of the exhibit. Don't miss "An Afternoon with Degas’s Ballerinas and Lauren Anderson" where the former Houston Ballet principal dancer sheds light on the painter's popular subject matter (Oct 30).

Thru Jan 16. $7.50–15; free for children and members. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. 713-639-7300. 

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