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Reviewed by:
  • What Degas Saw by Samantha Friedman
  • Deborah Stevenson, Editor
Friedman, Samantha What Degas Saw; illus. by Cristina Pieropan and with photographs. Museum of Modern Art, 2016 36p
ISBN 978-1-63345-004-2 $19.95 R 7-10 yrs


This day-in-the-life-of-an-artist focuses not on the technical details of French artist Edgar Degas’ works but on where he found his subject matter. Breaking from older traditions, “he wanted to find a way to capture the beauty of the passing moment,” so he went out into the streets, theaters, and race courses, observing humanity going about its daily business. There’s little plot, but text is simple yet fluid, capturing the artist’s milieu and perspective. Pieropan’s delicate, scratchy linework has the formality of etching, appropriate to the intricate and old-fashioned scenes; the gentle palette, with pale peaches, golds, and blues predominating, distances the scenes somewhat, but it makes for an effective contrast with the interpolated paintings and prints from Degas’ oeuvre. While not as quirkily impressive as Winter’s Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude (BCCB 1/09), this is an interesting view into the relationship between an artist and his daily life, and it will be useful as a preparation for a museum trip. End matter includes a key to the artworks reproduced in the book and a brief overview of the artist’s life. [End Page 573]



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