Seated Bather Drying Her Neck by Edgar Degas. Courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

A Post-Covid Exhibition at Legion Should Brighten Our Lives

When this Plague finally recedes, the ferry community will have reason to rejoice for quite another reason.

Our own Legion of Honor may finally open. Meanwhile, we must content ourselves with its online offerings.

When Edgar Degas stayed with family briefly in New Orleans, he enjoyed the ferry to Algiers.

He would often bring his pastel kit with him for the short journey across the Mississippi.

And what have we here?

A seated bather emerging from a swim in The Bay? No, not exactly.

But it does conjure an image we may cherish from the deck.

From October 2, 2021 through February 13, 2022, the exhibition Color into Line: Pastels from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and California Colllections will offer a fresh understanding of the art of pastel.

With the appearance of a painting, the immediacy of a drawing, and the timeless matte finish of an ancient fresco, it is one of the most versatile medium and adaptable techniques used throughout history. Told through a selection of eighty works, the exhibition will span five centuries — from early Renaissance drawings to the contemporary, showing masterpieces by Rosalba Carriera, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, John Altoon and Wayne Thiebaud.

Highlighting technical aspects and the design process behind the works, the exhibition will be drawn primarily from the Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts, the department of works on paper of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and will be supplemented with selected works from key Bay Area public and private art collections.

Color into Line will provide audiences a rare opportunity to appreciate the artistry of pastel through local works not usually on public view.

The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue is curated by Furio Rinaldi, the Museums’ newly appointed curator of drawings and prints.