Edgar Degas

I do not like Degas. Consider these faces. It may be a commonplace- I got it from Alasdair Gray- that you cannot paint a facial expression that you cannot wear, so these are he.

I had noticed it, but could not deny the feeling with this actress. The face is hard. The lips, sexual red, are a gash, the eyes expressionless. She is in her dressing room, perhaps checking make-up, and still.

The café singer peers out at us through thick, fleshy eyelids. Her mouth is twisted. I do not understand those parallel stabs of white, but they cross her out. She is bovine.

This singer too, forced to use sex, imbued with the disgust one feels immediately after masturbating.

And the audience.

“People are like that,” Degas might say. Not all of us.

6 thoughts on “Edgar Degas

    • Maybe it’s an English thing…

      There is an English type of art lover who finds modern art difficult, and regrets the passing of representational painting; and we have the feeling that representational painting is nice, and cultured and civilised in a nice way. That means not looking at it properly. The ballet dancer might have been forced to play the courtesan to survive. These are real people, in real situations, worthy of being looked at, and respect.

      Not all of us, of course. But I am close enough to that attitude to understand the feeling I satirise.

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    • Hello, darling! More on Degas this evening, too busy now. I am at the Quaker “Yearly Meeting”. Yesterday I was at the launch of the Ethical Landlords Association- “Because it’s a home, not just a property”- of people seeking to create good standards for landlords, and work by them. I said to Alastair, “I know a man in France” and he said they’re already working across two legal systems, Scots and English, which are diverging at the moment on housing; I heard this as, why not three! If you are interested, email me and I could find details. Right now, though, I am writing a leaflet for Quakers to give out at Pride marches.

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