Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty (Kids)

*Café Singer (Chanteuse du café-concert)*

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas. Café Singer (Chanteuse du café-concert). 1877–78 6003

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Café Singer (Chanteuse du café-concert). c. 1877–78. Monotype on paper. Plate: 4 3/4 × 6 3/8″ (12 × 16.2 cm), sheet: 5 1/16 × 6 9/16″ (12.9 × 16.7 cm) (irregular). Private collection

Narrator: These two monotypes look like they show the same thing: singers surrounded by glowing lights. But wait, look more closely – can you spot the differences?

To start, let’s look at just the colors. First, look at the black and white one. Degas began by making a kind of print, called a monotype: he drew with black ink on a metal plate ...

[SFX: Goopy sound, a squelch or a dribble, like finger painting]

laid a piece of paper on top ...

[SFX: A thick sheet of paper rustles]

ran them together through a printing press ...

[SFX: Grinding or cranking sound, the mechanism of the press]

peeled off the paper ...

[SFX: Swock!]

Et voilà! The ink had moved from the plate to the paper, creating a “monotype!”

But Degas didn’t stop there – now look at the one in color. Degas started this one by putting a clean piece of paper on the already-inked metal plate and sending that through the press to create another monotype. 

[SFX: Monotype progression – a quick recap in order of all the sounds that go into making a monotype]

But this time, he drew on top of the black ink with colorful pastels!

[SFX: Pastels on paper, like chalk rubbing]

It’s like he created his own coloring book and then colored it in. But he still didn’t stop – he kept experimenting! Instead of coloring inside his own lines, he used pastel chalks to change the image. He did more than just add color. See if you can find the main singer. Look how her hair style and the shape of her body have changed!

Ok, let’s take one last look at the black and white work. In the left corner, at the top, there’s a big white circle with scratchy lines bursting out of it. What do you think it is? To find out, press six-zero-zero-four (Wand ALT: press the green play button).

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