Category Archives: Impressionism

Edgar Degas


“Ballet Dancers on the Stage”

Today is Edgar Degas‘ birthday (1834-1917).

Frye in notebook 31:

Aesthetics seems, as I say, to rest on the fallacy of idealized forms.  We idealize a slender, youthful naked woman’s body & call that beautiful, so when Degas claims for “beauty” a study of haggard ironing women or thick-arsed middle-aged matrons washing their hairy privates, we get horrified.  One of the functions of satire is to break down these external theories of beauty, which at bottom are always theories of property & decorum.  (CW 15, 91)

Frye in The Modern Century, “Improved Binoculars”:

Impressionism portrays, not a separated objective world that man contemplates, but a world of power and force and movement which is in man also, and emerges in the consciousness of the painter.  Monet painting Rouen cathedral in every aspect of light and shade, Renoir making the shapes in nature explode into vibrations of colour, Degas recording the poses of a ballet, are working in a world where objects have become events, and where time is a dimension of sense experience. (CW 11, 32-3)