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Degas' compositions, color palette, subject matter and viewpoints depicting movement make him an Impressionist. Degas, however, did not call himself one. He did not paint outdoors, nor consider his work to be spontaneous, but rather the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters.In The Dance Class, we see ballerinas after reahearsal with their instructor. Degas captures a snapshot of the dancers as if he had used a camera. He does not depict them beautifully posing, but instead in natural, realistic ways.

MASTERS

the DANCE class

Edgar Degas, 1875

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Subject Studies

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Practice Slow Looking

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Monet's vibrant splashes of color and light, spontaneous brushwork work together to show a frozen moment in time.This is an everyday family scene, not a formal portrait. The work was painted outdoors, en plein air, and quickly, probably in a few hours in one day. It is a perfect example of Impressionist art, capturing a feeling or experience rather attempting to show an accurate, realistic painting of woman holding an umbrella in a grassy meadow.

Woman with parasol

Claude Monet, 1875

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Brush Strokes

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Thoughtful Thinking

While we are used to seeing images of people sitting comfortably or casually in a chair in the privacy of their home (and beyond), for the late 1800's, Cassatt's use of such a pose was not common in art. In fact, the way Cassatt painted Little Girl in a Blue Armchair so differenty from other 1880's portraits, made viewers consider it one of the most radical images of childhood of the time. Additionally, the child's expression, asymmetrical positioning and use of pattern on the furniture creates a dynamic aaa composition, capturing a personal snapshot in time.

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Little girl in a blue Armchair

Mary Cassatt, 1878

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MASTERS

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Pattern

Where in the World?

Practice Wonder

Practice WONDER

WONDERING STRATEGIES:

  • Use words like might, could, would to wonder.
  • What would you ask the artist, if you could ask one question?

Build your skills even more by slow looking and thinking about Cassatt's Little Girl in a Blue Chair. Then practice the next step: Wondering. Use open ended questions to explore where your observations and thinking can take you next. Use the strategies below to help you along.

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Let's learn more about Impressionist Claude Monet

Practice THOUGHTFUL THINKING

THOUGHTFUL THINKING STRATEGIES:

  • Step 1: Make a Claim -- What's going on in this work of art?
  • Step 2: Support with Evidence -- What makes you say that?

Repeat SLOW LOOKING with Degas' Woman with Parasol, but consider the next step: Thoughtful Thinking. Use factual elements of the work of art to back your claims of what you are seeing." Use the strategies below to practice.

Woman with Parasol

Step 1: Make a Claim -- What's going on in this work of art? Step 2: Support with Evidence -- What makes you say that?

Practice SLOW LOOKING

SLOW LOOKING STRATEGIES:

  • Categories - "What colors do I see? What shapes? What kinds of lines?"
  • Open Inventory - List all the things you see with the goal of describing it fully.
  • Scale and Scope - Looking at one section at a time helps to find details you might have otherwise missed.
  • Juxtaposition - "How does this artwork connect to its variation?

Take some time to take a good look at Edgar Degas' variations of The Dance Class. He worked on these paintings during the same time period --1873 to 1875.Use the strategies below to practice slow looking.

Dance Class

The Dance Class 1894 vs. The Dance Class 1875 Juxtaposition: How do these two artworks compare? Do they have the same subject? Color? Theme? Open Inventory: Find 5 things that are different and 5 things that are the same.

Let's learn more about Impressionist Edgar Degas

Woman with a Parasol is located at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Where in the World...

Subject Studies

A study is a drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece, as visual notes, or as practice to help figure out Elements of Art - light, color, form, perspective and composition.

Degas sketched Jules Perrot, a famous ballet master, as he conducts the class. “The Dancer Jules Perrot” (III:157.2), 1874, charcoal and black chalk heightened with white, 19 x 12 in. (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

A sketch of one of the dancers. “Standing Dancer Seen From Behind,” ca. 1873, essence on pink paper, 15 ½ x 11 in. (Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre (Orsay), Paris.

Brush Strokes

Instead of using smooth, blended brushstrokes, impressionist painters used short, broken brushstrokes to create the illusion of movement and light. These broken brushstrokes let the colors blend in the viewer's eyes.

Monet's color palette shows us the colors he liked to use when painting, but to him it was more important to know how to USE the colors.

Rather than neutral white, grays, and blacks, Impressionists often rendered shadows and highlights in color.

Little Girl in a Blue Armchair is located in the National Gallery of Art in Wshington, DC.

Where in the World...

Let's learn more about Impressionist Mary Cassatt

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The Dance Class is in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France.

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Pattern

Patterns help create visual rythm in art. Sometimes patterns are regular, repeating, and geometric (like a checkerboard or a sidewalk made of bricks) and sometimes they are more irregular, natural, and organic (like leaves on a tree or shells on a beach).

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