• I just added a new piece to the Teachout Museum, an 1892 etching by Edgar Degas called “Dancer Putting on Her Shoe.” Degas is one of my favorite artists, and I’ve long wanted to own a work of art that had something to do with dancing. This particular work isn’t rare–the copy I bought is a posthumous impression from the cancelled plate–but the cancellation marks are unobtrusive and the image extraordinarily beautiful, as you can see by going here.
It’s also extraordinarily simple, especially by comparison with the increasingly complex pastels of dancers that Degas was producing around the same time. That’s one of the things I love about etching as a medium: it encourages the artist to concentrate on essentials. Color is still what I love best about painting, but looking at etchings taught me to understand and appreciate the importance of pure line–and, eventually, to love it as well. Whenever I look at “Dancer Putting on Her Shoe,” or my copy of Milton Avery’s March at a Table, it makes me want to write more simply, to strip away everything superfluous and be content with what remains.
• In case you were wondering, I very much enjoyed my Thanksgiving dinner at Good Enough to Eat. I’d never eaten out by myself for Thanksgiving, and I feared the prospect of being part of a salon des refusés, but the atmosphere turned out to be cheery and companionable, and the food was delicious. It was fascinating to see who else showed up. I counted more or less the same number of all-male parties and extended families with children, which tells you something about my neighborhood. (I only spotted one other singleton at the two o’clock sitting, though, and I’m not sure what that says.)
Incidentally, the background music consisted of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, which went surprisingly well with cornbread stuffing and roasted Brussels sprouts.