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Black, White, and Not A Ballerina to Be Found

Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson

A new exhibition at the Foothills Arts Center in Golden features works of famed 19th century French impressionist Edgar Degas that have largely been overlooked by other members of the art world.

Robert Flynn Johnson, the exhibits' co-curator, has been collecting lesser known works by Degas for nearly 40 years. In that time, the curator emeritus of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, has amassed about 100 works for his collection, many of which have never been seen before by the public. Those works, as well as a few by Degas contemporaries Paul Cezanne, Gustav Moreau and Mary Cassatt, are part of the new exhibit Edgar Degas The Private Impressionist: Works on Paper by the artist and his circle.

The well-known work of Degas has fetched as much as $28 million at art auctions over the years. But his colorful paintings of ballerinas and horses are only one part of the Degas legacy.

Credit BBC News
This work sold at auction in 1999 for $28 million, a record for Degas works.

Mostly black and white and smaller in scale – Flynn Johnson says the exhibit, which runs through June 30, affords the viewer a rare peek inside the artists’ persona.

Credit Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson
This small print is one of about 100 works on display at Foothills Arts Center in Golden until June 30.

"Degas is a difficult personality," says Flynn Johnson. "If Degas were on late night television, he would be a perfect guest for David Letterman because they both have the same mordant way of looking at the world. So that kind of David Letterman kind of personality is something that the public, when they come to see the work will get a sense of."

Now one of the most recognizable and popular movements within modern art, Impressionist artists such as Degas were rejected by the 1870s art establishment for their depictions of landscapes, and everyday life painted in vivid colors.

While Degas’ exploration of other media – drawings, prints and photographs – now on display in Golden were of little importance to the wider art world, Robert Flynn Johnson says he was attracted to their intimacy and beauty.

Arts District is a collaboration of KUNC, Rocky Mountain PBS and KUVO.

A native of Stamford, VT, I call(ed) the Berkshires of western Massachusetts my home. The Berkshires are a culturally rich area -- I’m talking pass the butter and heavy cream -- rich.
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