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Posts tagged ‘Absinthe’

Norms do… Degas’ L’Absinthe

I’ve always been a bit obsessed with the la fée verte . That is to say, I’ve always been fascinated by the debauched charm of that wonderful peppermint green drink which was and still is (in its full potent form) an illegal alcoholic substance: Absinthe. For absinthe has long been the chaperone of artistic legend, as all the most romantic illusions of the impoverished, desperate, inebriated artist are indubitably accompanied by a bottle of the green stuff, or a glass of its milky diluted counterpart. Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, the green faced cancan dancers of Toulouse Lautrec’s underworld masterpieces, and the dissolute tale of a spiral into poverty and lascivious living on the hillsides of Montmartre in Zola’s L’Assomoir all centre around the mirky hallucinogenic potency of this green-eyed alcoholic monster. It is the very essence of bohemian artistic Paris, and it’s association has pervaded art and its cultural progeniture for decades. One of the most prominent sources of the liquor’s legendary quality is the sensational painting L’Absinthe by Edgar Degas. I first saw the painting in London, when it was exhibited at Tate Britain’s superb exhibition Degas, Sickert and Toulouse Lautrec in 2005-6. I was instantly struck by the simple solitude of the female figure, caught in a moment of absentmindedness and melancholia, appearing quite isolated despite the figure sat to her left, he looking away in his own depressive daydream. I’ve remembered the painting ever since and therefore I was so excited to make its acquaintance once again upon visiting the Musée d’Orsay the other week that I decided I had to turn it into a Norm painting. And so, when the Norms do Degas, it looks something like this…

L'Absinthe Norm (after Degas) (Acrylic on canvas, 2011 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Degas’ original painting, on the other hand, looks like this…

L'Absinthe (Edgar Degas, 1876)

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