Cafe-Concert by Degas
Cafe-Concert by Edgar Degas
The popular perspective on Degas is that of an aesthetic genius whose acidic colors (inspired by the new invention of the electric light), blurry atmospheres, and dynamic subjects are to be admired as pleasant and universally pleasing. Who would not appreciate lovely images of ballet dancers chasing their dreams? What is often overlooked is that the voyeuristic perspectives of the images place audiences in the shoes of the old, wealthy gentleman who visited clubs, dance halls and cafes to mingle with the young and disadvantaged female performers.
In this heliogravure, we stand backstage at a cafe chantant, the sketchy outline of a faceless female dancer before us. Popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, cafe chantants spread across Europe and experienced great popularity in the city of Paris. There, performers would sing bawdy tunes, dance, and serve food and drink to the men who visited. A popular subject for both Degas and his colleagues, including Manet, they gave the art-loving elite a stark - and, some say, unfeeling - view of the dark truths behind the belle epoque.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917) took to monotype printing around 1874, after the amateur etcher Vicomte Ludovic Napoléon Lepic introduced him to the process. For Degas, this singular print process gave him greater freedom to improvise and be spontaneous than drawing on paper allowed. Throughout his lifetime, Degas produced more than 400 different monotypes, a number far greater than his etchings or lithographs.
This heliogravure was printed in 1948 by Les Ateliers G. Bouan & Dreux-Barry, Paris. It is signed in the plate, lower right. It was printed after the extremely rare original monotype. This affordable version is one of only 1,000 that were beautifully printed on Marais paper with a platemark indentation around the image, as with the original. Comes with a copy of Exemplaire sheet, indicating edition number.
- Onastasia Youssef
Plate size: 6.5" x 4.75"
Sheet size: 12.25" x 9"