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Degas rivalled the great artists of the past when he chose the time-honored subject of the nude. Inspired by tradition, although notoriously departing from it, Degas captured his nude bathers performing intimate, mundane tasks rather than enshrined for all eternity in an idealized, motionless pose, as, for example, in the manner of arch-academician Jean-Dominique Ingres, whom he revered. Many aspects of his nudes, including his portrayal of prostitutes in a brothel, would have been puzzling to contemporaries, largely as a result of their astonishing originality. Maybe this is what Degas meant when he remarked that he wanted to be “illustrious and unknown,” or, shall we say, unknowable. Despite this deliberate ambiguity, Degas elevated his interpretation of the nude to the level of high art, gaining immortality at the forefront of modern art.

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About the lecturer(s)

Carol Tabler

Carol Forman Tabler, noted art historian, holds a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU. Her dissertation focused on the French nineteenth-century artist Antoine Vollon, with whom she came into contact while writing the European section of the catalogue for the Heckscher Museum’s collection. Over the years she has organized exhibitions at the museum, served as a trustee, and is currently a member of the Collection Stewardship Committee there.  Her scholarship on Vollon has led to conference presentations and publication opportunities in books, journals, and exhibition catalogues, including an e-journal article available to read on the web. In 2005 she wrote the essay for a major solo exhibition on Vollon at the Wildenstein Gallery in New York.  In 2015 she donated one of Vollon’s finest drawings to the Frick Collection in New York and was invited to present a live-streamed, archived lecture on the artist, still available to view on the Frick’s website.  She considers herself a Francophile, specializing in the French nineteenth century, although her broad university-level teaching experience over the years has inevitably expanded on that concentration.

Lecture Details


1 lecture(s)
Day & Time

Thursday, 1:00 - 3:00pm

Oct 05, 2023