Edgar Degas

Water in booth

Water in booth

Pershing Square Cafe, across the street from Grand Central Station.

We took a quick trip into New York to see the Degas Monoprint show at MoMA which is ending this weekend. If you’re within striking distance, this show is highly recommended.

Degas was one of the first artists to really let out all the stops on multiple types of manipulation(s) to a print after it comes off the press. A single etching comes off, then he draws on it and it’s a one of a kind. That’s what a mono print is all about.

The show is incredible, well worth seeing.

I had planned to see this show earlier in the summer but as many of you know, my mother passed away and we got busy with all that that kind of event brings (burial, dealing with her house, belongings, and “estate”).

We came back from Los Angeles just in time to catch this show and both Anne and I loved it.

So, this high contrast Ricoh GR shot of a glass of water at dinner last night is my reference marker for Degas’ amazing mono prints.

The show catalog is up on Amazon ($5 cheaper than it was at MoMA) and while I don’t think it’s anywhere near what the show was, it might be worth checking out if you’re into this kind of printmaking.

Anyone who shoots high contrast images with the Ricoh GR needs to see this work for sure. It pre-dates the current crop of high contrast work by 150 years and Degas was a master of moving composition (he’s famous for his ballet dancers but he drew all kinds of people doing all kinds of things).

Edgar Degas monotypes

The Museum of Modern Art has what looks like a fantastic show of Edgar Degas monotypes: Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty.

The video above is a terrific overview of both the Degas work and the monotype process.

This looks like a terrific show, I’ll be seeing it for sure.

Lest you think printmaking can’t be part of the photographic process, my good friend Gary Sharp has done a type of mono-printing with Polaroid photography: Polaroid Transfers to watercolor paper.

Onion

This is a Polaroid SX70 photograph of an onion. While the Polaroid film is still wet, the back is peeled off and a piece of watercolor paper is laid on it. A brayer is used (like the press in the video) to apply pressure and the image is transferred (printed) on the paper. This image is a scan of one of those prints.

I’ve always been in awe of Gary’s experiments and as a photographer who makes fine art prints of his work, I’m interested in all aspects of the printing and printmaking process.

My mother and a Degas dancer

My mother and a Degas dancer

Pasadena, California. Don’t tell too many people but the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena has one of the finest collections of art on earth and absolutely the finest collection in the Los Angeles area. The Getty Center may be more interesting architecturally but this is the place to see art. It’s beautifully curated, the light and spaces are superb, and it’s just enough to make it a worthwhile destination but not so much you feel like you need a nap afterwards (depends on your age).

My 91 year old mother has a warm place in her heart for any of Edgar Degas’ dancers and this bronze is one of his most famous. Behind her is a room full of the finest Degas bronze dancers, paintings and other 19th century work. Behind me as I take this is a wing of Picasso, Braque, Klee, Kandinsky and more, and not just any paintings, some of the finest you’ve been looking at in art books for years. They’re all here in the permanent collection of this humble but spectacular museum.

My mother and Diane Arbus

The Norton Simon has a special photography exhibition going on now The Collectible Moment: Photographs in the Norton Simon Museum which is a small portion of the permanent photography collection of this outstanding museum. This exhibit has Adams, Cunningham, both Westons, Arbus and all the photographers we all admire in books.

Here my mother is looking straight ahead at a famous Diane Arbus while I take her picture with another famous Arbus behind her. Mind blowing.

Norton Simon and whoever has helped him assemble this collection have assembled one of the greatest collections of photography in the world. And, it is rarely shown. This show will be up through March 12 and if you can get to it you will not be sorry.