Art & Identity in New Orleans

HNRS 109 Spring '18

What Are They Looking For?

The artists who paint New Orleans in oils and in film are capturing its spirit in one way or another. They are all doing this in different ways. Edgar Degas paints his little scenes, snapshots of life in the ever-changing but always drowning city. He took a piece of the same city home with him to France. But what was he looking for? E.J. Bellocq photographed the vulnerability of prostitution in Storyville, creating black and white portraits of scandal and sex. Was he looking for the intrigue or was he trying to fight the social standards of the day? These artists, and others, are responsible for projecting an image of New Orleans to the world. What was it about the city that captivated their attention? What were they looking for? I want to explore these questions and find the soul of New Orleans in the artists who are responsible for creating its image that is seen by the world.

One Comment

  1. Kayleigh: This is a wonderful subject, but — as I suspect you already know — it’s far too broad. You might consider confining your project to a single artist or a single time period or a single subject or place in the city. Take a look at the book I have in my office, A Unique Slant of Light, because that might provide some help in choosing a specific topic for your project. You also could look around the New Orleans Museum of Art’s and the Historic New Orleans Collection’s websites for past and current exhibitions that might also generate some ideas.