Degas to Picasso study visit

The Degas to Picasso study visit was an interesting experience. The exhibition itself was based on a single private collection and featured a lot of works on paper. As I am currently on a drawing course this was not necessarily a bad thing and it was fascinating to see how artists such as Degas and Monet used drawing to explore ideas and composition.

As it is a private collection, there are no copies of the work online as far as I can see and no photography was allowed in the exhibition. I made some drawings in my learning log some of which I have inserted into this post.

Monet did repeated studies of a sailing boat beached on the shore at Saint Adresse. I admired the vigour of the drawing which was in charcoal, with vigorous lines and broad tones. I couldn’t find an example from this series on the internet.

Another artist who did many studies of the same image was Degas whose  “after the bath” of a woman drying her leg was a beautiful drawing using charcoal, white chalk and pastel on tracing paper. This is featured on the Ashmolean’s exhibition page. The exhibition also showed how Degas repeated images using printing techniques, often removing detail to bring an image down to its essential form.

I was drawn to a small Odilon Redon drawing in pastel and graphite on brown wove paper. “Christ on the Cross” 1910. The more I see of Odilon Redon’s work the more I love him, This drawing was vibrant with colour and had a fresh and modern composition.

There was a good representation of cubism at the exhibition. I found the cubist pictures quite cold and unemotional (of course Picasso’s Guernica and Weeping Woman are very emotional so it isn’t always the case). While I enjoyed looking at Albert Gleizes works “Still Life” 1911 and “The City and The River” 1913 I was struck by how the techniques of cubism are now redolent of graphic design and company logos with strong colours and black outlines.

I preferred Andre Masson’s “A Celebration” 1958. An abstract pastel drawing on orange brown paper Masson used the techniques of automatic drawing to produce and energetic and emotional swirl of colourful marks.

Again, as a drawing student I did appreciate the notes on media that the Ashmolean gave us. It brought alive for me the fact that these artists sat with the same materials that we possess – paper, chalk, pastels, pencils, and produced amazing and beautiful things.


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