Edgar Degas’s stay in New Orleans in 1872-73, which marked his only visit to the New World, resulted in two remarkable paintings of a cotton office. Linking Southern cotton to the textiles in his countless pictures of dancers, laundresses, and bathers and to his works’ paper supports, this lecture will demonstrate the centrality of the material to the artist’s corpus. More broadly, Degas’s Cotton Office paintings, as well as drawings and correspondence from his time abroad, reveal that the artist had begun thinking about the world, his work, and the subjects depicted therein in more geographically expansive and interconnected terms. These pictures and letters reflect his newfound understanding of the ties that joined the Old and New Worlds to one another and the global circulation of people, goods, and communications in the later nineteenth century.
Michelle Foa is Associate Professor of Art History and Carnegie Corporation of New York Professor at the Phyllis Taylor Center at Tulane University. Her first book, Georges Seurat: The Art of Vision, was published by Yale University Press in 2015. She is currently at work on a book on Degas, and she has published articles on Seurat, Neo-Impressionism, Degas, Zola, and 19th- and 20th-century photography. Before arriving at Tulane, she taught at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Mount Holyoke College. https://liberalarts.tulane.edu/departments/art/people/michelle-foa
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Art History Program