If you had the opportunity to visit the outstanding Degas exhibition at MFAH earlier this year, you may also enjoy Christopher Benfey’s book, Degas in New Orleans. Benfey’s book covers a seminal time in the artist’s life not often mentioned in standard biographies. In the fall of 1872, Degas spent time in New Orleans with his mother’s family, the Mussons (while there, painting the scene from the Cotton Exchange included in the exhibit). The book describes the influence of New Orleans in general as well as of writers Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable. 1872 found New Orleans in the Reconstruction era, - a time of great change in a city still recovering from the economic, physical, political and social ravages of Civil War.
I hope you had a chance to see Degas: A New Vision at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It was a stunning display of the breadth and span of the artist’s career from the expected paintings to the more seldom exhibited prints and even photographs taken by the artist late in life. The didactic texts were brilliantly specific and plentiful.
Over 200 works were assembled from collections around the world; from the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. to Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, and from Museu de Arte de São Paulo to Musée d’Orsay, Paris. It was truly a comprehensive accumulation of the life’s work of an iconic and ground breaking artist.
If you are interested in learning more about Degas’ landscapes, on the left is a link to MFAH’s director Gary Tinterow giving some background to the works. On the right, you will find a short video teaser for the exhibition that shows some of the more well known works in the show.