Stephanie Strasnick previews the upcoming exhibition Degas/Cassatt at The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., on view from May 1 – October 5, 2014.
The show examines the artistic dialogue between the two artists. One example, Strasnick writes is that both artists [experimented] with unconventional media such as tempera, distemper, and metallic paints. In Degas’s Portrait after a Costume Ball (Portrait of Mme. Dietz-Monnin), for instance, the artist juxtaposed patches of smooth, matte pigment with wide strokes of metallic paint and delicate applications of pastel to create a textural and frenetic surface. Cassatt tested these materials as well in works like Woman Standing, Holding a Fan and Lydia Seated on a Porch, Crocheting. She also used metallics to add a subtle sheen to oil paint. In The Loge, she incorporated small bits of shimmering, simulated gold paint throughout the canvas to vitalize the scene… It is a common misconception that Cassatt was merely a pupil of Degas, when in fact both artists learned from and respected one another, and executed daring experiments using unconventional materials."