tv Charlie Rose PBS May 16, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with richard engel, chief foreign correspondent for nbc news, and a report about americans fighting with i.s.i.s. in syria and iraq. >> we interviewed a senior justice department official that said they've gotten better, that they're preventing more americans from leaving this country to try and join i.s.i.s., that the number of americans and other foreign nationals who are going to join the so-called islamic state has gone down. but, of course, there's a flip side to that. if the u.s. law enforcement in general is better at locking the door and keeping them from going to join i.s.i.s., that means you've locked them inside this country and they're here and that is a concern that law enforcement officials have. >> rose: we continue with
simon de pury talking about the art market today. >> it's essential to always visit all the exhibits, the art fairs, previews and you have to stay in it. you can't take a step back and you don't want to because it's so enjoyable, you can never get tired of it or blase. you can't ever see too much art. >> rose: we conclude with jodi hauptman, the curator talking about the edgar degas exhibition of modern art. >> he is the great chronicler of the ballet. but he was relentlessly experimental and that's what the exhibition seeks to show, the way he defied convention, reached for something new and, in that, that's where his influence is on art of the 20th century and artists of today. >> rose: richard engel, simon
de pury and jodi hauptman, when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: there are new developments this week in the fight against i.s.i.s. in a report airing this sunday on nbc's "on assignment," you will learn the identities of 15 americans who have joined up with the jihadis. it is the latest investigation by richard engel, chief foreign correspondent for nbc news and a friend of this program.
welcome. >> good to be here as always. >> rose: take me to the beginning. >> so, for us, the beginning was about two months ago in southern turkey. we met an i.s.i.s. defector, someone who claimed to be an i.s.i.s. defector, who was part of their security division, and he said he grew disillusioned with i.s.i.s., thought the group was too brutal and too va sage and he wanted to escape. but you don't just walk away from a group like i.s.i.s., you're not allowed to leave, and if you go to another country and you have been associated with i.s.i.s., you're a fugitive. so he wanted to have something to trade for his new life, some collateral. so he says that he stole a thumb drive, a flash drive -- he didn't know what was on it, he just knew it was important, valuable stuff that i.s.i.s. kept very close watch on -- >> rose: gave it to you? he gave it to us, and we opened it up and there were thousands and thousands of documents on this file, and a
lot of them were duplicates. they were folders inside of folders. they were in arabic. we spent a lot of time going through it. we eventually worked with west point's combating terrorism center and were able to not only authenticate the documents but coal lat coalate them, identifid parents and what they were were the i.s.i.s. personnel registration files for over 4,000 foreign fighters. so when foreign fighters would arrive in i.s.i.s. territory, like when you land at the airport in many countries, you fill out a form, name, address, et cetera, except the i.s.i.s. form was relatively detailed. real name, emergency phone contacts, the countries you visited, special skills, personality, blood type, a full dossier. we sorted through these and focused on the 15 u.s. residents
among this cache of documents. >> rose: you will reveal the names on the program sunday night. >> yes. we started researching. we got a team of producers together. we were working with a former f.b.i. investigator and we set up a motel room with a board on it and started printing out the names and dossiers and photographs and tried to identified patterns and canvassed the country. >> rose: what parent did you find -- what pattern did you find? >> we identified a cell. there was a family group that had become radicalized in the united states. we identified a 16th i.s.i.s. member who wasn't even on our list, and what happened was this husband and wife got together and became increasingly radicalized, and then they brought in their -- her little brother, and then the three of them traveled overseas, and the
f.b.i. consistently, we found, didn't respond to clues. people in the community knew, people in their families knew what was happening to them, that they were becoming more and more dangerous and radicalized. >> rose: so what did the f.b.i. do and what did you do that they hadn't done? >> these documents were from 2013 and 2014, so these were people, americans and others, who had left this country or their country of origin and left and entered syria to join up the group that was becoming i.s.i.s. at the time. these all represent intelligence failures because, if the f.b.i. had known about these people or stopped them, they would have never ended up joining i.s.i.s. and filling out their registration forms. so these were the ones who got through the net. these are the ones who made it into i.s.i.s. territory. >> rose: but have they talked to the parents? >> so once they got through, clearly they made it, they managed to get out of the country. the families that we had spoken
to had been contacted by the f.b.i., but what we found is it didn't extend the investigation by the f.b.i., as far as we could tell, didn't extend very far beyond the immediate parents. we spoke to former teachers, we spoke to neighbors, we spoke to friends, and in many cases, none had been contacted. >> rose: they didn't know about the child that had gone to syria? >> no, none of them. >> rose: no teachers knew, no friends knew? >> no, in most cases, people did not know. >> rose: the parents knew? the parents did know. >> rose: they all knew they had a child fighting in syria? >> yes, they did. >> rose: where was the point of entry into syria? >> all these files were from turkey. >> rose: right. the files had come from an i.s.i.s. commander, according to the defector who gave it to us, who had a role with the i.s.i.s. customs and border crossing division. so the people coming in through
several crossing points at southern turkish border and northern syria. >> rose: what does the f.b.i. say now? >> the f.b.i., and we interviewed a senior justice department official, said they've gotten better, that they are preventing more americans from leaving this country to try and join i.s.i.s., that the number of americans and other foreign nationals who are going to join the so-called islamic state has gone down. but, of course, there's a flip side to that. so if the u.s. law enforcement, in general, is better at locking the door and keeping them from going to join i.s.i.s., that means you've locked them inside this country and they're here, and that is a concern that law enforcement officials have that, okay, they might not be leaving but they're still here. >> rose: the point everybody is worried about, would they go to syria and learn all kinds of techniques in terms of bombing and using destructive weapons, then come back here because they have an american passport, slip in and do damage.
>> the bigger concern now, frankly, is these 15 who went and the one we identified who wasn't in the document, the 16th, they're already gone. their names now are known, pretty soon they will be known to everyone. they're going to have a very difficult time ever coming back to this country and doing some sort of violent act. the question is what about the ones who never try to leave? and i.s.i.s. has changed its message, saying don't bother coming here, just stay at home. but that said, it wasn't a huge number, considering the u.s. population, to find among 4,000-plus files, the fact that we only found 15 names, i think people could take some comfort in that, that it's not nearly the problem per capita of most european countries. >> rose: what were the shared characteristics of the 15? >> lost. people who wanted to find
something, who were depressed, who were looking for meaning. i think these were the kind of people who would have joined a cult in the years' past or joined up to some sort of fringe religious group, a charismatic leader. >> rose: what shaped their thinking? was it online? was it a mosque? >> it's a combination of factors. everyone's always looking for where did they drink the special sauce or where did they get the injection of evil. yeah. >> rose: yeah. it's a scale. people can get radicalized online, radicalize themselves more. you meet up with an individual in a cell, got married, drive themselves and work themselves up into more and more of a frenzy. but in most of the cases we found, seems like their initial contact with this ideology was through their propaganda. >> rose: what's the status quo
in first syria and then iraq? we're reading about, one, some degree of build up of the american effort to help retake mosul on the one hand. on the other hand, you see today there was a report in syria about i.s.i.s. trying to retake palmerra. >> i think it's still a very confused policy. i think there is not one clear military strategy. the u.s. has been building up forces slowly, but if you look at the numbers, they're tiny, and if you look at the troop increases in iraq, if you've noticed, the white house goes to great lengths to say how small they are. there are only x number of troops -- you know, 412 or 25 here. >> rose: the latest is 250 special forces. >> 250 into sir. -- 250 into . before that a specific number was given. two messages there. one is to the american public that we're not rolling down a
slippery slope and getting involved. >> rose: it's incremental. but it's also to balance the competing interests in the region. iran doesn't want u.s. troops back in iraq. there is something of a red line. if the u.s. suddenly increased the number of boots on the ground in iraq, then we would potentially be facing violence on a scale that we are not seeing right now because iran says, okay, if a small number of troops help, join in to fight i.s.i.s., then iran can tolerate that, but if suddenly american troops. >> rose: iran is an enemy of i.s.i.s. >> iran is an enemy of i.s.i.s. is also a red line for russia, if a lot of american troops started going into syria and for iran. so there are so many regional efforts and regional interests that are trying to be counterbalanced. you want to support -- the u.s. wants to support the kurds, but only so much that it doesn't completely provoke the turks.
the u.s. policy right now is trying to thread this incredibly small needle between russia and iran and the kurds and turkey, and the result is a policy that is still somewhat muddled. >> rose: what would the turks do if the united states even more strongly with weaponry supported the peshmerga? >> well, there is the peshmerga, there is the y.p.g., the different kurd groups, and they don't all see eye to eye. now turkey is fighting its own military campaign against kurds who are inside turkish territory. so it's not even that the u.s. has a united policy about what to do with the kurds. we have three or four different policies just for the kurds, and i think that's emblematic of the larger strategy against i.s.i.s. just with the kurds, we have
different strategies for different kurdish factions. >> rose: do you think they will retake mosul before this administration hands over power to the next, january 20, or january whatever it is, 2017? >> it's possible. >> rose: possible. possible. i don't think you're going to see lots of american troops there, but it is possible. i.s.i.s. is not that strong. it's a bit of a -- everybody hates it. the group is losing territory. it's ideology is generally loathed. i like to think of i.s.i.s. as a virus. viruses are strong because the host is weak, and right now the hosts in that region are weak. >> rose: the government in syria and iraq. >> the government in syria, because of all the divisions i have been talking about between the kurds and turks, between the russians and the iranians and the u.s., the divisions between the syrian opposition groups, because all of these fractures
have weakened the host, the body, this disgusting virus, i.s.i.s., has managed to flourish. all the people i'm speaking to, not all but most, say the way out is through russia, and there are serious conversations going on now through geneva peace process between the u.s. and the russians, and the way i think that -- >> rose: it's broader than a cease fire. >> broader than a cease fire. and the way they seem to see the way out of this is the following, that bashar al-assad gets to stay temporarily. he stays in power in syria. the russians help him reestablish his authority, which has already been happening. >> rose: within a certain portion of the country. >> and they have been making some progress. then there is a transition phase that, over the next 18 months or so, there's a transition phase to a new government.
bashar al-assad goes and perhaps even leaves the country and lives happily ever after and is in a villa somewhere that we don't hear from, and there is a new government that contains many of the remnants of the old regime, and -- >> rose: and some of the moderate forces. >> yes. >> rose: and jihadists or not. probably. moderate j jihadists. but not i.s.i.s., let's say. once you've removed bashar al-assad in a smooth transition, that the russians can say it wasn't libya once over, the iranians can say there was a smooth transition of power that looked like a process they weren't going to accept, that once bashar al-assad and his inner circumstance are removed, then you can have a new government that looks like the old government but one everyone can agree upon. a little like world war ii. you blame hitler, goring and a couple of other top nazis and
everyone else gets off. you say hitler, his fault, the rest to have the regime gets a pass. >> rose: amazing stuff. thank you for coming. >> my pleasure. >> rose: richard engel, "on assignment" nbc news sunday night, check your local time. may is a busy time for the art world, spring auctions and art fairs bring dealers and art lovers together right here in new york. no one knows that world better than simon de pury, the legendary auctioneer, the former chairman of sotheby's europe and the co-founder of the auction house now known as phillips, discusses his book "the auctioneer: adventures in the art trade." i'm pleased to have simon at the table, welcome. >> thank you very much. >> rose: i love the title to hav --the title of the book,
adventures in the aired trade. >> i have been privileged to be in the art world 45 years professionally speaking. when you love art, it's a little bit like you love candies, you want to work in the candy store. >> rose: so you worked in the art store. >> exactly. >> rose: how did it begin? i grew up in switzerland which is a small city, but a city with a fantastic museum and also a great art fair, and so very early i would go to museums, i would go to art galleries and i loved to draw and paint when i was a child and that awakened my interest in art. >> rose: you thought about becoming a painter. >> i initially wanted to become an artist. >> rose: you're saying artist and painter are the same. >> it would have been a painter because i was not going to be a sculptor, i was really going to payment and draw. but when i finished school, i went to japan, to tokyo, to the tokyo academy of arts where i
studied japanese brush painting and a technique of paint with japanese minerals. rapidly, i realized i wasn't going to be the great artist that i hoped i would be. >> rose: did your father give you advice? >> my father was a little concerned that i wanted to pursue an artistic career. ple. i did attempt to study law but that was a disaster which only lasted a few weeks, and, so, when my pants didn't know what to do with me anymore -- my parents didn't know what to do with me yifn more, my mother called a top dealer and asked can you talk to this young boy, it's a desperate case, can you talk some sense into him? >> rose: what did he say? he asked me a question. he said is your approach to art physical or intellectual. i told him it's purely physical.
he said, in that case, you must in no circumstances study the history of art, you must become an art dealer. >> rose: yes. i said, well, that sounds good, but how do you go about it? then he gave me some precise advice and told me where to go and where to have my first job and so on. initially, i followed his exact advice and i am still eternally grateful for him put meg on the right track. >> rose: what makes a good eye? >> i think a good eye is seeing lots of things. i think the more and more and more you see things, the more you begin to distinguish what's good from what's not good, because i always think that auction houses are an amazing place to train your eye, because even if somebody's a secretary in the porcelain department of one of the big houses, they see a lot of porcelain day in and day out, at the end of the day, something sticks to you and you begin to distinguish what's good, and what's good
automatically leaps at you. >> rose: what about study, in fact, the study of art itself? can it give you an eye? >> i think you need to study as well. it's a combination between the physical experience of looking at a lot of art, but then of course you have to do your homework, and if you are attracted to artwork and all that, you want to read about it and find out more of the background about it. >> rose: what fascinates me about ron water, he's said to have a great eye and his brother was thought to have a better eye than he did, was the fact he started early. he wanted to be a collector and whatever he could afford he brought. >> you picked the person with the best eye that i possibly know, absolutely extraordinary, because he has an eye right across the board. he is able to guy best medieval ivory and the most stunning
sculpture, really right across the board he has an eye for what is the best. but i think you can, very often you start as a collector very early because it's a basic instinct we all have, whether we start collecting cars or dolls, but still i think, when you are a collector like arnold is, it's like being an artist because it's an artistic pursuit in itself. >> rose: talk about auctioneering, though. you are very good at. this you have been there. there is a picture of you. people talk about you. give us a sense of what it is to be good. >> when i started working at sotheby's way, way back, i saw one thing that distinguishes an auction company more than any other gallery is doing auctions. i thought i want to become an
auctioneer and told my colleagues i would love to start conducting auctions. some colleagues gave me the chance. when you do that, you do a mock auction where you simulate with all your colleagues everything that could possibly go wrong in an auction. if you survive that, then you're going to do your first real auction. >> rose: auctioneers are superstars in the art world, aren't they? >> i don't know if they are, but auctioneers always have to try to obtain the best possible result on behalf of the clients that entrust these artworks to them. and i do a loft benefit auctions as well. >> rose: exactly. and then it's the same thing. you always need to try and obtain the highest possible result for the company you're selling for. >> rose: you also developed certain kinds of experiences and wisdom. you have said it's better to think you overpaid for something outstanding than to get a bargain on something mediocre.
that almost is a maxim for life. >> it's true because i've seen people who are brilliant business people but when they approach art they only want to buy bargains. i've never seen a good collection made by somebody just making bargains. very often i've seen people who occasionally felt they had overpaid but something really exceptional, at the end of the day it was that work which really then increased the most in value over time. >> rose: so you look for quality. >> so quality is essential. you really want to distinguish between something which is of outstanding quality and something which is quite mediocre. >> rose: and i assume the best knows where the best eyes, and this is obvious, know an artist's life and look at an artist's work and know the very best he or she ever did. >> yes. the advantage, when you buy art from the past, of course, you know what an artist has done. you have an overall knowledge of
the whole career. so every artist, you know, had some good days and less good days. so you know what are the best works and you can compare them with other works. but when you buy contemporary art, the work of a young artist, you don't know what his life will look like and how active he will be, how he will go, and you take from that because you can't predict and compare with other things. so you take a bet and it's a gut instinct you use. >> rose: have you fell in love with the work of young artists? >> yes. there are -- >> rose: how many? there are a number of young artists that i felt, my god, this looks so exciting and you really want to follow what they are doing. and the exciting thing at phillips is that every season we sat down with our colleagues and discussed between ourselves, because we all shared the same passion, and discussed which young artist we felt were the
most promising, which ones we felt had the most upside potential. then we would put them into the auctions. we would normally put them into the day sale, and then if they did okay in the day sale, next time we would put them in the evening sale. the evening sale is the one that gets all the attention, occasionally we would fast track the artist and put him directly into the evening sale. so we would introduce a number of artists to the secondary marketplace, artists who had never been sold at auction before. i was excited to see one of my all-time favorite artists, mark bradford, who lives in los angeles, his works have been selling very, very well this week. and when we, for the first time, sold a work by mark bradford, we decided to put him straightaway to the evening sale, and the first time a work of his sold at auction it made $180,000 or something in that rage, which is sensational. this week we've seen prices in
excess of $3 million for him. so it is exciting to follow artists through their careers. >> rose: did you champion richard prince? >> richard prince is an artist that i always loved very, very much, and i remembered when richard prince did an exhibition of his nurses at the gladstone gallery in new york. and a number of friends said, it's crazy, what is he doing now with his nurses? and i madly fell in love with his nurse paintings. his nurse paintings were all selling between $35,000 and $75,000, and, so, we at phillips were championing his work. we were including his work. and i remember telling a number of colleagues -- not colleagues, but friends, i said, listen, you should really look at prints, and it would go into one ear and out the other. then we sold one of these nurses for just under $1 million. when that happened, suddenly the same friends came back and said, where can i get the prints?
where can i get one? (laughter) now, tonight, there is going to be a stunning nurse sold at christie's, called a runaway nurse. i don't know the price. >> rose: legislate. we expect it to do -- knee speculate. >> we expect between 7- and $10 million. >> rose: how long has it taken him since you first recognized his work to get to this point? >> we're speaking of ten to 12 years, so not a very long time. >> rose: tell me about the market today. here we are in the center of this week. what's going on? i mean, where are prices headed? >> so there is a moment of kind of readjustment in the market. after all the economic uncertainty that has been kind of generally, a -- general, a lot of toners of top works decided to hold back and they felt, let's see what happens. so this season, they are far less kind of really top-end
works on the market. >> rose: but they're holding back because they think the market will not support the kind of prices they feel justified in receiving? >> yes. i mean, what we saw over all these last years literally from 2009 up to the end of last year, prices kept climbing and going up and up and, so, if you did own something totally exceptional, even if you inherited it and you had it forever, you were very tempt to feel, well, maybe now is the moment i should put it on the market. if you looked at the catalogs, there is outstanding catalogs. the amazing quality of works that came on to the marketplace, as good as a lot of things you would see in top museum. now at the end of the year, people felt a little uncertain of what the situation was and, so, the volume in the auctions is considerably lower than it was, but the sales that have taken place so far this week have been very solid because the sales on sunday night at
christie's and phillips had sold in excess of 90%, and when you sell more than 9, it's a very solid marked. >> rose: 90% -- 90% of the lot offered were actually sold. back in 1990, june 1990 or in october, november of 2008, there was a moment when the auctions went down to about 50% or 55%, and then you think, oh, my god, what is going on. >> rose: what are the factors that determine where the market is, as a whole? for example, i assume, during the recession, there was not a lot of buying and selling of art. am i wrong? what happens in bad smik economic times -- bad economic times? >> what is interesting, the last two periods of real adjustment of the art market were in 1990 and in 2008. >> rose: right, exactly. in 1990, the boom of the late
'80s has been entirely fueled by japanese collectors, and in may 1990, world records were beaten by dr. gashay at christie's for $82 million and one at sotheby's for $78 million. and then in june, all japanese buyers had withdrawn from the market. so the sales in june, one month later, were really very, very bad. then the market only rebuilt very gradually and slowly. so it's by '96 or '97 that it gathered steam again, whereas in 2008, it's the exact opposite happened, it stopped in october 2008. but in march 2009, there was an auction at christie's which was the most successful auction at the time to ever take place and that really gave confidence. >> rose: they were selling their collection? >> they were selling their collection. >> rose: right.
and, so, when people saw that it made amazing results, the confidence came straight back and, so, since 2009, we have seen price as high as you will will -- high as up to 2016. >> rose: how much speculation is there to someone buying a piece of art, but if someone offers them a huge profit they would get rid of it. >> there are many motivations for collecting and many are interested by the speculative aspect of it all. but even the most serious collectors have seen a collector that would show you a work and say, listen, i bought this nor $1 million and it's only world now $200,000. (laughter) even those who buy out of passion for art take contentment when they can see what they have spent money on has been a good investment. >> rose: do you have people
who are private collectors that have you looking for particular pieces all the time? >> yes. the key is to know basically who has what and who wants what. >> rose: yes. and, so -- >> rose: and that comes from experience. >> and that comes from experience. and that's one of the advantages of having been around for a little while, because after a while you begin to know where things are and who's looking for what. >> rose: so what's happening at sotheby's now? >> well, there have been a number of changes recently. >> rose: yes. with a number of specialists that have spent many years there that have recently left. >> rose: new owners. at all times, there has been some ability, you know, with people leaving and moving on which always offers an opportunity for the gene yore staff to move up one or two notches. what is maybe unusual in terms of what has happened recently is the number of seasoned specialists who did leave. but, for instance, this week,
sotheby's had perfectly good sales and, you know, i think that some of the specialists will go to other houses, some will become art dealers and there is a kind of mobility which is not necessarily a bad thing. >> rose: what's happening online? >> online is the big question because the art market is probably the one that has been most resistant to the advent of new technology. so when you settle at auction, it's -- when you sell at auction, it's very costly because you need a huge network, lots of employees and a big machine to do it successfully and well. so at the price level between so thousand dollars and up to $1 million, in my view, the internet is probably more effective way. >> rose: from $10,000 up to al a million? >> up to a million dollars, over time, i think the internet will prove to be a more nobody how he
thought of doing a catalog only auction. so if you want to inspect it physically, you're able to do. so you may decide you don't need to see it physically which is fine and fair enough. but i feel you should be offered that chance. >> rose: what's your favorite museum in the world? >> a hard question. one is the museum of basel which is where i grew up and developed my miewms love for art.
>> rose: what are the lessons in art to you? >> i think you have to be current and never take a step back. you can't ever get blase or see too much art. the same thing with music. if you're obsessed with music, you can't ever listen to enough music and that's the key at the end of the day. >> rose: miami as arrived as an art center? >> yes, miami is a very important place for the art fair. i think it's the most important art fair in the united states. >> rose: how did that happen? the one family there? >> the wonderful thing, in miami, you have a community of great local collectors, and
whenever the art fair takes place, all the collectors open their homes and arrange something different for the visitors that go to miami and makes it special. but los angeles is probably the most vibrant art center today. >> rose: the new museums as well. >> the new museums and you have so many important artists. >> rose: the center for contemporary art. >> yes. i have great amount of very interesting, very good artists who are based in l.a., who are living and working there today. >> rose: are you somehow grateful you didn't have great skills as an artist so you could find this other wonderful place to stand in the world of art? >> listen, i feel very privileged to be doing what i do, and i think whenever you are passionate you don't feel that you're working, and, so, i don't
have any regrets of not being an artist. >> rose: what was the hardest thing to write about in this book? >> well, it was very weird because i wrote this book in conversations with the co-author who lives in l.a., and i was having long skype sessions with him and he would ask me questions. it was like going to a shrink, speaking and speaking and, you know, you forget, it was like a conversation. when i got the manuscript, i said, oh, my god, did i say all this? and, so, it was kind of a strange experience because, of course, it's all my anecdotes, my stories that i was saying, but it's told with a different voice. but i think that probably makes it interesting. >> rose: thank you for coming. it's a pleasure to see you here. >> great pleasure to be here. >> rose: the book is called the auctioneer adventures in the art trade. we'll be right back. stay with us.
>> rose: edgar degas is one of the most enduring an influential artists of the 19th century, best known as painter and chronicler of the ballet yet his work as a printmaker reveals him as a most modern and innovative. the museum of modern art focuses on rarely seen monotypes, degas, a strange new -- edgar degas, a strange new beauty. the "new york times" says the exhibition makes the past feel alive and useful, perhaps the most you can ask of any historical show. jodi hauptman is joining me, curator of drawings and prints. welcome. >> pleasure to be back. >> rose: put degas in the
great context of art in the 20th and 2 is century. >> he is as you said known as the great chronicler of the bllet, and that's what we associate him with, but he was also really wildly experimental, relentlessly experimental and that's what the exhibition seeks to show, the way he defied conversion, reached for -- convention, reached for something new. that's where his influence is on art of the 20th century and art of today. >> rose: this is the first monographic exhibition. >> that's right, at the museum of art. >> rose: at the museum of art. which is interesting because we have some really wonderful, important works by the artists, but no other curator had really taken it on. we were always thinking about who among the foundational figures for the collection we should look at again, bring to the attention of our visitors and kind of think about the relationship between the 1880 when we began and contemporary art. so degas seemed such a perfect
figure to do that with. but there was no mod tol -- modo look at to say we'll do something else. we were beginning from the beginning. >> what is a monotype? that's an important question. a monotype is essentially a hybrid of drawing and printmaking and what degas did, what the artists do is take a copper plate, draw on it with black printers ache, make a sandwich with a damp piece of paper and run it through a press. a monotype usually yields a single print. mon o one. but degas was defying what materials are supposed to do, making them do what they're not meant to do, often played with the idea of sin singularity ande tried to show that in the exhibition. >> rose: it was said it underlines degas genius was graphic on historical art of linear sorcery from ingrid to pecaseo. >> well, yeah, i think it's a
beautiful description and is something i think you see in the exhibition. degas is a follower of ang and a drawing that's very precise and descriptive. what monotype into your knowledges in degas -- encourages in degas is a looseness, a gesture. you move from something precise to something loose and liberated. monotype did that in if you think of the plate being slick and the, inc. viscous, the slick plate encouraged him to move easily so no resistance that you would have with paper so that encouraged him to move the, inc. around and loosen up and be really improvatory. you can make a change with monotype up to the end, not like
wood carving where you're making a commitment. the idea you can make the change and wipe the plate off if you didn't like what it looked like and try again also encouraged a kind of spontaneity and malleability into degas' work. you see that as he gets looser and the work more abstract. >> rose: the idea of process is product pervades this. >> yes, that comes out with monotype. here's an artist where finish was not that important. it was about making something new, trying something new. it wasn't about making preparatory drawings for paintings, every kind of medium was equally valued for degas. they all taught him something and showed him a way to use materials in a different way. so he was always interested in
trying new things. >> rose: why ballet? it was a way to show how they were almost weightless. so monotype was apt in showing that kind of movement. and you really see it in those wonderful prints. >> rose: he also had relationships or associations or friendships with the artists of his time. monet? >> yes, and he's always associated with impressionism and the artist around that and helped organize the exhibitions of impressionism at the time but he always -- he didn't like that term. he didn't like to be called an
impressionist. he actually called himself a realist. >> rose: let's take a look at some things. we understand him as the ballet master, 1876. >> this is degas' first mon to type and the exhibition opens with this work. he's introduced to mon to type by a friend who's also a printmaker. they both sign the work, lapeek and degas. it's important to begin the exhibition because it's not just his first but indicates to the sitors you're looking at something by degas. you see the ballerina and the ballet teacher but also an image that's dark and murky, unresolved and mysterious. so it says hopefully to our visitors that you're seeing a different kind of degas, a lesser known side of degas. >> rose: the next is the river, 1877, '79.
>> yes, this is a great work, small and intimate. we see here the way degas expands the toolkit he uses in making his images. instead of using the pencil and brush, he's using rags, back of the brush and his hands. his hands are really in there. you can see on the right side the way he's taking his finger and run it horizontally across the image to make that horizontal -- >> rose: show me thatgain. if you go in the middle right. >> rose: right. you can see where he's taken his finger and gone across. if you go up, you see all the small fingerprints that make the sky come alive. you get the sense of an artist who's embraced this medium, who's actually physically covered in, inc. because he has his -- ink because he has his hands in it up to his elbows. another good friend says about him in a letter, degas is no longer a man, he's a plate, he's
covered in ink and gone through the press. you get the sense of someone who's immersed in this medium with enormous enthusiasm. >> rose: heads of a man and woman 1877-'80. >> this is one of my favorites in the exhibition and it gets to this important thing about degas' practice is that he is always looking for new techniques to describe new subjects and as i was saying before the most pressing, the most urgent subject of this time is the expansion of the city. what he gives sus an elegantly dressed man and woman h e's drawn them on the plate but before he prints he takes a rag or finger and smears their faces. so what you get is a sense of what it would have felt like to see people if you rush past them in the city, what's the experience. >> rose: a blur. you only catch people in these moments. >> rose: factory smoke, 1877-'79. >> again, a wonderful image and completely unexpected for degas. i don't think anybody would ever
associate this image with degas but he's capturing new aspects of life in the city. so the impact of industrialization, factory smoke. there is an analogy of subject and means, where you think about the ink moving across the plate the way the smoke moves across the sky. >> rose: the next one is cafe singer. >> so this is important. we're looking at two works. one of the interesting things about the way degas used a monotype is that instead of just limiting his work to a single impression which is what monotype generally is, as i said, mono is one, after he prints the first impression, you will see, inc. is still left on the plate and he'll make a sandwich with the piece offpaper and run it through the press again and he gets a second impression, a ghost image, a degraded image. he takes that image and uses it
as a tonal map to then add pastel, and you can see he does it in the image on the left. what he does with the pairs is sometimes he sticks very directly to the first image, but sometimes he makes changes and you can see here he's thinned out the singer, he changed her hairstyle, he's added another figure. so you get two images that are both the same and different and that's an important lesson for him in understanding that making art is not about a final or finished thing, there is always another image to be made. the other thing i want to point out quickly is the image on the right is a kind of essay and new forms of illumination. so the globe on the left side is actually a representation of the new electric lighting. so it's new in the day, and you juxtapose it with those softer glows, and that's the old gas light. so we're getting the impact of light on the body, and at some point degas says the spice of the image is not the light
itself but its impact. >> rose: most of these are 1877, 1878, 1879, $1,880. >> right. over the progression of the monotype, he makes over 300. you get the sense that even though he's painting and making other things, he's really engaged. >> rose: the next is three ballet dancers. >> this is a dark field technique. degas would have taken the plate and laid a curtain of black ink across it and drew the ballerinas by removal, so using rags, hands, a sharp implement, and you get an image of dancers immerging out of darkness. what that does for him is lets him depict the foot lights and also what we were talking about before, the idea of movement. you get the sense of these dancers leaping into the air. >> rose: the next one is woman
in a bathtub. >> right. again, this is another example of a pair -- >> rose: a come in her bath. where he made the first impression, the one on the right, and a second on the left and covered the second one with pastel. you can see the that the one on the right is very dark and murky. she's almost bathing in a bath of ink. the pastellized version is resolved, the light is even, she's prettier, and in this case, often the dark print, the print that doesn't have the pastel was a private or exploratory practice he might share with friends, as the one with pastel would actually go out on the market. >> rose: the one on the right is woman in a bathtub, right, and the woman on the left is woman in her bath. >> right. so sometimes the titles are actually generally not degas' titles. they were given much later after the fact. the other thing i want to point out is in this work on the right
you can see two spigots indicating this is an apartment of some means because it has running water, but when degas adds the pastel, he actually eliminates the spigots, so not only is he changing the feel of the two prints but the class of the subject. this is a work in our own collection in the museum of modern art collection. in 1880 degas stops making monotypes with black ink and in 1890 begins making monotypes again but uses oil paint instead of the black i, and that's a real innovation. oil paint is very liquid and responds in an interesting way to the press, and you can see he's put a lot of green ink on the plate and, as it goes to the press, the ink gets smooshed across it, and you get this kind of abstract location of the land without an actual depiction of it? the next?
>> dancers. the exhibition ends with a room devoted to answering the question, what did monotype do for degas? how did it change his practice? he stopped making monotypes in the mid $1,890 but is still making art, so -- mid 1890s but what does it do for him? you might say it's four dancer tying their shoe but maybe it's a single dancer degas is moving around. even if you look at the two dancers on the left, they're almost like mirror ims of each other. but what's striking about this work is usually earlier on degas would have given the whole setting of where these dancers are. it's a rehearsal room or backstage. but here they're in a kind of ambiguous nowhere. i think the idea of the tone and that ambiguity comes from the landscape monotypes that he makes. there is also a real free kind of drawing in this work, not so descriptive. that also goes back to the
liberation that the monotype provided. finally, if you get very close, you will see all sorts of fingerprints on the surface and you will see the way that used to fingerprint his own hands, sculpting the medium, gets transmitted from monotype to canvass. >> rose: some suggested he was an anti-semite? >> yes, that's really the great tragedy, i think, of degas' life and career. at the time of the dreyfus affair which was this moment in france that really split france over the -- whether a jewish member of the army had committed treason and all of france was split, and i would say he took the wrong side. he took the anti-dreyfus side. he sided with a conservative part of his community. when we think about degas, we think about this great experimentation in his work and something his friend pisaro talks about in a wonderful say.
he says, he was a an anarchist t in art. it was a little dig for degas because degas was so ac diff. his way to defy convention is in art. >> rose: the title of the exhibition is "edgar degas: a strange new beauty," at moma till july 24th. >> come see us. >> rose: look forward to it. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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