Here are 20 of the quotes we gathered for Degas: A Passion for Perfection at the Denver Art Museum, the only American venue for this exhibition. (February 11-May 20, 2018)
1. Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
2. Muses work all day long and then at night get together and dance.
A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy.
4. I assure you no art was ever less spontaneous than mine.
5. I am a colorist with line.
6. One sees what one wants to see. It is false, and that falsity is the foundation of art.
You must aim high, not in what you are going to do at some future date, but in what you are going to make yourself do today. Otherwise working is just a waste of time.
8. If I could have had my own way, I would have confined myself to black and white.
9. People call me the painter of dancing girls. It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes.
10. Do it again, ten times, a hundred times. Nothing in art must seem to be an accident, not even movement.
11. I should like to be famous and unknown.
Beauty is a mystery, but no one knows it anymore. The recipes, the secrets are forgotten.
13. There is a kind of success that is indistinguishable from panic.
14. We are living in a strange era, it must be admitted. This oil painting that we undertake, this very difficult craft that we practice without understanding it!
15. One certainly needs courage if one is to approach nature.
16. New things capture your fancy and bore you by turns.
17. I am thirsting for order.
18. I have done so many of these dance examinations without having seen them that I am a little ashamed of it.
19. There is a kind of shame in being known especially by people who don’t understand you. A great reputation is therefore a kind of shame.
Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.