Late Degas: Eyesore No More

degasresize459x360_e6e652d50e5d6f86c310d3ded7074c8d_1f21f662d18edcc280dfafa8facb1c311600x1253_quality99_o_1at2a0sdp1vfnp9o1flo1ll18dgnThe Art Newspaper looks at an exhibit opening next month in Houston and reports: ‘Twenty-eight years ago, the Grand Palais in Paris opened a retrospective devoted to Edgar Degas, the first in more than 50 years. The 400-work show, which later travelled to the Musee des Beaux-Arts du Canada in Ottawa and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was lovingly reviewed by critics like Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times—although he had reservations about the late work. (Pictured is “Racehorses in a Landscape” (1894), pastel on paper.)

“In the 1890s, Degas’s work became more searching and haunted,” he wrote, adding that the painter’s “sight failed him”. This was, for the most part, the consensus on late Degas, says Gary Tinterow, who organised the 1988 exhibition as an associate curator at the Metropolitan Museum with the Musée d’Orsay’s then-curator Henri Loyrette and the late Jean Sutherland Boggs, the first female director of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. “One had to apologise for the late work,” he says. “It was thought to be that of an old man who could no longer draw, or a reflection of frustration and a loss of manual dexterity.” Loyrette is even more blunt: “People said Degas was a blind man.”

It took time and scholarship and subsequent exhibitions, but that feeling has largely dissipated, which gave Tinterow and Loyrette reason to return to Degas with another retrospective, which opens next month at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), where Tinterow is the director.

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