Art Stroll: Edgar Degas – A Strange New Beauty at MoMA

Written by Nathalie Kalbach. Posted in Art Stroll

KalbachDegas Collage

In March, I went to the opening of Edgar Degas – A Strange New Beauty at MoMA . Honestly I am not the biggest Degas fan – I mean – I like his paintings but not in a geeky “ohhhh I looooovveee” kinda-way. But …I was really surprised how much I loved the exhibition because it showed Degas experimenting phase with monotypes in the late 1870s and how that lead to his later so famous signature painting style.

A monotype is a hybrid between a drawing and a print. It is a drawing that is printed – Degas painted on copper plates with ink, or covered a copper plate with ink and painted into it, put paper on it and run it through a press.


The Jet Earring – 1876-77 – Monotype on paper

But furthermore, Degas would often make a second pull –  a so called ghost print and then enhance that one with pastel.




Now one of the coolest things of the exhibition was that the curators pointed out where to look even closer and provided a magnifying glass to do so.


“Make a drawing, begin it again, trace it, begin it again, and retrace it” – Edgar Degas


Degas also experimented using oil instead of ink for his monotypes and then enhancing again the ghost prints with pastels.


River Banks, 1890 – Pastel over monotype in oil in paper


Wheatfield and Line of Trees, 1890 – Pastel over monotype in oil on paper


Two Dancers,1905 – Charcoal and pastel on tracing paper


Here is the monotype – the first print .


And the ghost print enhanced with pastels.

Three Ballet Dancers, c. 1878


At the Theater: The Duet – 1877-79 – Pastel over monotype on paper


The Café-Concert Singer, c. 1876 – Pastel over monotype on paper


I was fascinated by Degas’ way of seeing the monotypes as a process opening up so many more possibilities – what a great exhibition to explore his process and his grab for the shiny object. If you are near NYC – go and visit it- it is still open until July 24th, 2016  and I will for sure stroll through it again before it closes.



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Comments (6)

  • Gayle


    Thank you Nathalie for this informative museum tour – I didn’t know the extent to which Degas produced and modified his monotype prints. Whenever I saw the black and white works in articles about this artist, I presumed they were simply charcoal studies for his paintings. I’ve learned so much art history from reading your blogs and of course, can’t say enough about all your mixed media tutorials and info.- such a wonderful resource!


  • JoAnn


    Thank you for sharing – love being able to visit a museum through your eyes.


  • CarolynB


    Fascinating! Thanks for the exhibit tour and insights into the artist’s processes.


    • Profile photo of Nathalie Kalbach

      Nathalie Kalbach


      So glad you enjoyed it Carolyn! have a wonderful weekend!


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