Newcomb Art Gallery to unveil intimate Degas exhibit

Olivia Poletti, Contributing Reporter

The Newcomb Art Gallery will share an intimate exhibition of drawings, prints, sculpture and photographs by nineteenth century French impressionist Edgar Degas starting Wednesday. Degas is no stranger to New Orleans, having spent time in the city with his relatives for a year in 1872. In fact, one of his most recognizable works is his oil painting “A Cotton Office in New Orleans”—his only work to be purchased by a museum while he was living.

“The exhibit, ‘Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist,’ is a great opportunity for students to get to see works by Degas in such a private setting,” said Beau Box, the interpretation and public engagement coordinator of the gallery. “The gallery is of course free for students, so you can come by and spend five minutes or an hour and a half and get to know the works in a way you’re not going to in a big museum where there’s a huge crowd.”

The works come from the private collection of Curator Emeritus, Robert Flynn Johnson. In addition to Degas, the exhibit features works of Degas’ contemporaries, including Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Gustave Moreau, Alfred Stevens, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 

“The works show the very intimate and personal side of the artist,” Box said. “All of the works are on paper—many are drawings, so you very much see the artist’s hand in the work. I think the exhibit displays many interesting pieces in the sense that, as you approach them, you see detail, richness, and movement.”

The gallery will host an opening reception with food and drinks on Feb. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m., which students are highly encouraged to attend. The following night there will be a collector’s talk at 6 p.m. in the Freeman Auditorium featuring Johnson, the collector.

The exhibit will run through May 24.

“It’s a different way to see Degas,” Box said, “It’s a side of Degas that you’re perhaps not going to get in another exhibition.”