"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." - Edgar Degas

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas

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The renowned artist Edgar Degas once stated, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” These words have inspired many artists and viewers alike to delve into the profound implications behind this statement.

So, what exactly do these words signify, especially to you as an artist or someone who appreciates art? The phrase is not straightforward; it’s rich in layers of meanings and interpretations. Let’s delve into 10 different aspects that can offer some enlightenment on the essence of these words and how they can resonate with both artists and art admirers alike.

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“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas: Unveiling The Essence Of Artistic Creation

For centuries, artists have been inspired by the idea that their work serves as a conduit for others to experience the world differently.

Edgar Degas famously said:

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Edgar Degas

We could take those exact words and put in the word artist so that it reads, “Art is not what the Artist sees but what the artist makes others see.” When we look in this light, we see that an artist like Edgar Degas wanted us to see his paintings in a particular light and with a specific message.

10 Aspects That Illustration “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. - Edgar Degas

This idea is not just an artistic ethos but a lens through which we can understand the nuanced layers of art and its multifaceted impact on society. Read on as we will explore 10 aspects that illustrate why art is not merely what the artist sees but what the artist makes others see.

Artist Is A Mediator Between The Artist And The Viewer

Degas might as well have said, “Art is not what the artist sees, but what the artist makes others see.” The artist is more than a creator; they mediate between the object of art and the viewer’s perception.

The artist takes their vision, emotions, and ideas and translates them into a medium that others can interpret. The true success of a piece is not measured by how closely the audience sees what the artist sees but by how the work opens new vistas of understanding or feeling.

Edgar Degas

The Power To Open The Mind’s Eye With Art

Art can uniquely unlock the viewer’s imagination, inviting them to assign their meanings and emotional overtones to work. What may look like random brush strokes to one person could evoke feelings of sorrow, joy, or even transcendence in another.

Interpretive freedom enriches the viewer’s experience and brings an added layer of depth to the artwork.

An Emotional Catalyst Of Art

Art has a compelling power to stir our emotions. Art affects us emotionally, from paintings that capture the serenity of a landscape to music that resonates with our deepest feelings.

Through the experience of art, we can find inspiration, solace, and a renewed sense of wonder. It can shift our minds and make us see the world through a different emotional lens.

Art And A Journey For The Senses

Art is not confined to the visual. It also appeals to our auditory, tactile, and even olfactory senses. It takes viewers or listeners on a journey by activating their sensory perception. The more successfully an artist can engage the audience’s senses, the more effective they are at conveying their message or evoking specific feelings.

Art And The Challenge Of Communication

Being able to communicate effectively through art is an ongoing challenge for artists. The palette, the canvas, the dance floor, or the musical instrument are the tools, but understanding how to wield them to evoke a specific response from the audience is the art form’s real test.

The challenge lies in using these mediums to create a shared experience.

Art And The Cultural Mirror

Art often serves as a reflection of its cultural, social, or historical context. Artists can influence how people perceive their surroundings or circumstances, making viewers more aware of the nuances of their culture or others.

Self Portrait of Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Art As A Catalyst For Social Change

Artists have been instrumental in igniting change and provoking thought. From Picasso’s “Guernica,” which decries the horrors of war, to modern art that challenges societal norms, art can be a powerful tool for social commentary and change.

Guernica By Pablo Picasso

By shifting public perception, artists can make others “see” issues in a new light.

Art And Universality Across Boundaries

Good art transcends geographical and linguistic barriers. It has a universal language that can make people from different corners of the world “see” the same thing, feel the same emotions, or ponder the same thoughts, proving its ability to unite people under a shared human experience.

Art And Personal Transformation

Art has the power to influence individual growth. Whether it’s a book that changes your way of thinking, a painting that makes you see beauty in complexity, or a piece of music that becomes your anthem, art molds our personalities in subtle yet profound ways.

Art’s Legacy and the Power To Make Others See… Indefinitely

The enduring power of art lies in its ability to continue impacting viewers long after the artist has passed away. Classic works of art are visited, analyzed, and admired across generations, each offering a new perspective and a fresh set of eyes making their interpretations.

Edgar Degas’s simple yet profound statement encapsulates the essence of artistic creation. Art serves as a mirror for the artist’s intent and the viewer’s perception, reflecting myriad meanings across its polished surface.

It is a medium through which we can explore our thoughts and feelings and even transform our worldview. Most importantly, it allows the artist to share a piece of their world, inviting us to see what they see, feel what they feel, and perhaps even think what they think. This is the true power and beauty of art.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Edgar Degas mean by “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see?”

Degas is emphasizing that the true essence of art lies not in the mere depiction of visual elements but in the ability to evoke a response or interpretation in the observer. It’s about the artist’s capacity to communicate a deeper meaning or emotion through their work.

How does this statement challenge traditional perceptions of art?

Degas challenges the notion that art is solely about replicating reality. Instead, he encourages artists to go beyond the surface and engage viewers in a more thought-provoking and immersive experience, pushing the boundaries of conventional artistic representation.

In what ways can artists make others see through their work?

Degas suggests that artists should strive to convey a narrative, evoke emotions, or provoke thoughts in their audience. This might involve using symbolism, abstraction, or unique perspectives to invite viewers to explore and interpret the artwork in a personal and subjective manner.

How does the statement impact the role of the viewer in art appreciation?

Degas implies that the viewer plays a crucial role in completing the artistic process. The observer is not merely a passive spectator but an active participant who contributes their own perspectives and interpretations to the artwork, thus making the art experience a collaborative effort.

Can you provide examples of Degas’ own artworks that embody this philosophy?

Degas’ series of ballet paintings and sculptures are often cited as examples. While they depict dancers in motion, they go beyond mere visual representation, capturing the intensity, discipline, and emotions of the performers, encouraging viewers to perceive more than just the physical movements.

How does this statement apply to different forms of art, such as sculpture or photography?

Degas’ statement is not limited to any specific medium. It encourages artists in all forms to consider the power of their work beyond the visual elements. Whether through a sculpture’s texture or a photograph’s composition, the goal is to elicit a response that transcends the surface appearance.

How does Degas’ philosophy resonate with modern and contemporary art movements?

Many modern and contemporary artists embrace Degas’ idea by exploring conceptual art, abstract expressionism, and other movements that prioritize the conceptual and emotional aspects of art over realistic representation. His philosophy aligns with the shift towards more subjective and diverse artistic expressions.

Does Degas’ statement imply that all art should have a deeper meaning or narrative?

While Degas encourages depth and meaning in art, he doesn’t necessarily dismiss art for art’s sake. The key is intentionality; even seemingly simple or abstract artworks can be impactful if the artist consciously considers the message or emotion they want to convey.

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