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The Artist as Curator: Edgar Degas' Maison-Musée

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Scholars agree that Edgar Degas considered establishing a museum or donating his art collection to the French nation, but ultimately abandoned the idea. This article argues that while Degas never intended to found an official museum, his three-storey quarters that he arranged at 37 rue Victor-Massé functioned as an independent 'artist's house' or maison-musée typical of this modernist genre of display. Included were the artist's studio, his dwelling quarters and private museum, all curated by the artist himself. Like the autonomous group exhibitions of 1874–1886, of which Degas had been a main organizer, his domestic displays mark an important example of exhibition space in the context of modern French artists' resistance to state-run exhibition policy and art institutions.
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Keywords: Edgar Degas; artist's house; artist-curator; maison-musée

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 13, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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