“Great” photography & Pompier painters, part 2/2

It’s the same pattern for photographers.

First, this little thing. The world of Internet is full of “gorgeous” photos, like this sunset and this glass ball. But you won’t find anything like this in the world of good photographers.

 

Open a book of masters of color photography (Shore, Eggleston, Herzog, Leiter…). This is NOT what they do. The gorgeousness is elsewhere than in the result of pushing cursors (very colored, very sharp, big bokeh, etc).

It can puzzle you, or make you feel the mood of a place, or anything.

I know that it becomes the philosophical problem of “Beauty”, but in this article I extract the comparison.

On the left is a Venus, she’s perfect, like in porcelain, on the sea, doing an arty movement with her hand, and little angels are gazouilling around. It’s pompier, mythical, boring. On the right is Olympia, she’s a whore, she watches you (you’re the client). Both come from the same time.

 

Now take a “splendid” pool (with a big logo on the bottom, which is a sign of bad sign), and then Stephen Shore’s pool. Which one is a good picture?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

“The Unhinger” : Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (1863) is a MESS

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to understand the scandal and the revolution caused by Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, The Luncheon on the Grass, by Edouard Manet – which sounds totally harmful today, right? This painting is today in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris.

It was a groundbreaker in three areas. And it stays an enigma, a source of endless books, articles and suppositions.

Because

  1. We don’t understand the reason why this woman is naked with two men. “The presence of a nude woman among clothed men is justified neither by mythological nor allegorical precedents”.
  2. She seems a normal woman, not the aerial nymph or goddess you normally see when you see a naked body in a painting. This “realistic” approach has never been seen before.
  3. She watches the audience, she watches YOU, we wonder : “Is she challenging or accepting the viewer, looking past the viewer, engaging the viewer, or even looking at the viewer at all?”.
  4. She doesn’t listen to the talking guy. She doesn’t care. She cares of you.
  5. Manet has been considered an awful painter, because of the perspective mistakes (though he studied all of it for almost 10 years with a great teacher)… all this is made on purpose :
  6. Like in Japanese etchings, the lady in the middle is too big according to the perspective laws. “Too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground, she seems to float above them”. There’s a flatness, which is like a game for your eyes.
  7. Manet displayed the painting at the Salon des Refusés, an alternative salon established by those who had been refused entry to the official one. The public liked to come and laugh, ununderstanding crowd.
  8. “The roughly painted background lacks depth, giving the viewer the impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but in a studio”. De facto, even the light looks like “studio“. It fake, not “gorgeous nature”.
  9. The fruits and the dress are painted in a great talented way, but the trees and the natural environment are painted differently : you see the brush strokes. Impressionism is coming.
  10. Therefore it seems unfinished on several parts of the scene.
  11. The painting is TALL – 81.9 x 104.1 inches (208 by 264.5 cm), which is unusual for this “genre” painting. Usually, tall paintings are used for biblical or mythological subjects.
  12. There are no “subtle gradations” between colors (though the painter perfectly knows how to do this), and Manet has been accused to “see in blocks”.
  13. We can wonder if these people are lovers, swingers. Or maybe she’s a hooker?
  14. It’s like casually based (gestures, dispositions) on old masters painters. Manet studied them a lot. Raphael’s Judgment of Paris is an example.
  15. Oppositions are many between her and them : feminine/masculine, light/dark, naked/dressed.
  16. Described as idiotic, childish, shocking and incoherent by the newspapers. Good to them!
  17. This sounds not sincere, but analytical, a game, an enigma, a puzzle for your mind.
  18. Indecency : “vulgar men” painting nude women.
  19. Manet himself jokingly nicknamed his painting “la partie carrée“.
  20. “Refusal to conform to convention and his initiation of a new freedom from traditional subjects and modes of representation – can perhaps be considered as the departure point for Modern Art.”
  21. Subject is shocking. Style and treatment are shocking.
  22. “She is not ashamed of being naked as she gazes confidently at us”.
  23. The model was known (Victorine Meurent, who was a painter) and the guys are Manet’s brothers. Scandal in the French Academy!
  24. Works like this made Manet the father of impressionism. You can also study “Olympia” and the fabulous “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère“. In both paintings, the woman gazes. At you.
  25. Manet unhinged, damaged the whole history of paintings with this one…

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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You’ll find dozens other ideas everywhere on the web. This artist is an infinite source of thinking. Also : parodies (some are hilarious!).

It inspired other painters like Monet – who dit a “correct” and gorgeous version (comparing both could be a whole article). It so beautiful (Manet and Monet, who was younger, were friends), but it’s for you eyes, not for thinkers…

Have a nice day!

JP

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Insinuation & Pertuiset, a French poem & painting

ONE

This poem from Paul Valéry is a bag of problems, a real mess. Therefore I study it with you, OK?

First, translation. The one I found is a lie…

The title is NOT Insinuation, but “The Insinuater”, or “The insinuating guy”.

Oh curves that meander -> O curves, meander
As a secret lie, -> secrets of the liar
Is not this slowness -> Is there a art more tender
The tenderest art? -> than this slowness?

I know where I’m going,
I’ll take you there, -> and I want to drive you there
My dark intentions -> My bad intent
Mean you no harm… -> Is not to harm you

Etc

Insinuation

Oh curves that meander
As a secret lie,
Is not this slowness
The tenderest art?

I know where I’m going,
I’ll take you there,
My dark intentions
Mean you no harm…

(Although she smiles
With blooming pride,
So much freedom
Disorients!)

Oh curves that meander
As a secret lie,
I’ll make you wait
For the tenderest word

  1. These spoken words of a man who wants, desires, and tries to manipulate a girl, and when we read it today, it sounds… harassing, right?
  2. It is “said”, but pretty surely inside his own head, like if there was a mic inside – but I’m not sure, because of the brackets (which ARE like inside his head).
  3. Every girl knows that a guy who says “I don’t want to harm you” will harm you pretty soon.
  4. Does the poet want to sound weird? To show how it is to sound weirdly methodically desiring?
  5. Is the “tender art of being slow” a delight for the man, or for the woman? Like a too slow cat and mouse game?
  6. We readers probably hate him, with his “I’ll make you wait”…
  7. What’s the tenderest word? “I love you”? “Yes”?
  8. This mister wise guy seems to be proud of his “skills” (“so much freedom disorients!”).

Then I realized that this toxic poem is like being mockingly, sarcastically in a smooth talker, a womanizer’s head. Each of the four strophes is ridiculous and show-offy.

I couldn’t find the purpose of this, until I saw Pertuiset in a book, yesterday evening :

TWO

This Edouard Manet‘s painting is totally forgotten today – apart from Art specialists. He pictured Eugène Pertuiset, a hunter of the XIXth Century, a globetrotter who killed beasts, and showed the skins in Paris salons.

Far from Tanzania, right? All this is ridiculous, from thr French garden to his costume (more adapted to Germany than to African’s deserts), to his face, the tree, the angle (no horizon). Manet wrote, like carving lovers, his name on the trunk. “Has the artist intentionally exposed the model’s comicality?”.

Édouard_Manet_-_Pertuiset,_le_chasseur_de_lions.jpg

THREE

Braggarts are exposed (in French we say “un fanfaron”), but not and never explained. The show-offist are just… shown, as they are. The audience has to find the ridiculousness or absurdness of what they to or try to do. The keys are not given.

Trying to impress, being sure to impress, and looking like a fanfaron, oh my. We’re all afraid of being impostors, right?

Thanks for reading!

L’INSINUANT

O Courbes, méandre,
Secrets du menteur,
Est-il art plus tendre
Que cette lenteur?

Je sais où je vais,
Je t’y veux conduire,
Mon dessein mauvais
N’est pas de te nuire…

(Quoique souriante
En pleine fierté,
Tant de liberté
La désoriente!)

O Courbes, méandre,
Secrets du menteur,
Je veux faire attendre
Le mot le plus tendre.

(Paul Valéry)

Fight Club vs Le Bon Bock – Rebellions

Hi everyone! You know me and my tendency to find common structures in things.

Yesterday I was reading about Le Bon Bock (1873), a painting (now in Philadelphia) by E. Manet, which was a big success after the dramatic events in Paris (the Paris Commune, 1871, see here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Commune). It’s been seen as a Type, a sort of philosopher, happy to be quiet, thinking, having a pipe and a good beer.

Then I got questions from my daughter about the Fight Club movie (1999), a huge source of disagreements at the time. I made a web page (in French : https://www.maison-page.net/FC.html), my theory was that the film was a way to dismiss, back to back these two attitudes :

  1. Being a stupid “capitalist consumer” happy donkey, the unthinking bored dork whose motto is : “Buy things, obey the rules and shut up”.
  2. Being a dumb nihilist : the excessive-behaviored “useless anarchist” who needs the system (because he wants to “change” it).

What’s the point?

Well, for me, both (the painting/the movie), each in its era, says the same thing implicitly.

Manet painted a guy who is refractory to any form of domination – showing a way out of the boring back-to-back Fight Club criticism. The world is maybe absurd, but there’s a third path, out of the opposition : dumb consumer/dumb rebel.

Waldgänger uses the forest is an article where I explained what is this “Forest Goer” : you stay in the world, but you don’t believe in its bullshit anymore. You step aside… inside your mind. You don’t “quit”, you don’t rebel : you watch and don’t believe in what to see.

Inner retreat. You need it sometimes!…

Thanks for reading!

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bock

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“Get out of your dream!” as a modernity

These two paintings were made the same year, 1863. The first one (The Birth of Venus, by Cabanel) was a huge success and was bought by the Emperor Napoléon III. The second one (Olympia, by Manet) was a huge shock and scandal.

It’s a perfect example of the confrontation between classic and modern…

 

Manet is often called “The first modernist painter”. I’ll talk in another article about this painting, but let’s be quick : there are at least two transgressions here.

  1. Venus is a symbol, she’s lying on a rock with a very calculated posture, surrounded with pretty cherubs, awwwwe. Innocent as possible. He body is perfectly painted, “as it should be done”, with glazing light…
  2. Olympia is a hooker, someone brought flowers – a client, who is obviously… you. She stares at you, right? Manet, who perfectly knows how to paint, deliberately paints her not in a dream, but like in reality. She’s a bit pale, and wears slippers!

Wikipedia :

The painting deviates from the academic canon in its style, characterized by broad, quick brushstrokes, studio lighting that eliminates mid-tones, large color surfaces and shallow depth. Unlike the smooth idealized nude of Alexandre Cabanel’s La naissance de Vénus, also painted in 1863, Olympia is a real woman whose nakedness is emphasized by the harsh lighting. The canvas alone is 51.4 x 74.8 inches, which is rather large for this genre-style painting. Most paintings that were this size depicted historical or mythological events, so the size of the work, among other factors, caused surprise. Finally, Olympia is fairly thin by the artistic standards of the time and her relatively undeveloped body is more girlish than womanly.

(…both are in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris. If you want to visit the city one day…)

Alexandre_Cabanel_-_The_Birth_of_Venus_-_Google_Art_Project_2Edouard_Manet_-_Olympia_-_Google_Art_Project_2

 

In this article, I watch the second transgression. From him, we begin to really SEE the brush strokes. A painting like this invites you to THINK instead just feeling happy because it’s beautiful.

Look at the chairs and the characters in the front of the Tuileries park in Paris. They are normal. But the trees and the crowd are just… stains.

He opened the way to impressionism

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“What I seek before all else in a painting is a man, not a painting.”
Emile Zola

 

Hitchcock and Wilder, as movie makers, always said that they don’t want to push the audience in a dream, but invent stories or events strange enough to make the audience AWARE it’s a film, to have fun with them. Hitchcock always appears in his films, which is an example.

Brian de Palma (cinema) works like Brecht (theater) about distancing effects, things (like a split screen) which will make break the cinema-dream to put you out and make you think.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distancing_effect

 

Tool :

Yes it’s a tool, useful for today. Whatever your field, how can you do to use it? Is “Making people aware of the form” modernity? What are the other criterions?

In a post-modern era, or if your audience IS aware, what happens? You use irony, geeky references? How does it work? How can it be boring? How does it fail?

Hmmm. Sorry I have to stop and go to bed.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

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Influence in Art : Simple Formal Crutch, or Genuine Semantic Relaunch?

Simple formal crutch, or genuine semantic relaunch?

The idea of influence is intriguing. Nothing comes from the magic void of inspiration. Every artist have a past, a childhood, artists he loves or hates. Every artist borrows, continuously. They swallow and it gives something else.

Like drawing water from the river of what’s around.

This being said, it gives us many dials, many needles to watch, from zero (plagiarism or copy) to the most subtle influences (and many of them are even unconscious), from a simple borrowing (the formal crutch) to the semantic whole relaunch.

Plagiarism is just boring and dishonest, but when you watch the greatest artists and how they deal with influence, it’s thinker’s delight…

Simple Formal Crutches

  1. An idea as a seed
  2. Randomly found or methodically
  3. A start, like the grain of sand to make a pearl in the shell
  4. A winking eye knack for the public
  5. An homage to the old artist
  6. A casual drawing, “I pick up anywhere if I like it”
  7. Penny dropping

Genuine Semantic Relaunches

  1. After a revelation, from a masterpiece
  2. As a will to extend a territory, to make things move forward
  3. Discovery of a style, a whole area unknown before
  4. Etc

It’s not that simple, obviously : a little borrowing, a little seed can turns out to be the beginning of a clicking huge transformation…

Thanks for reading

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Kupka

Pissarro but no all

As I study Manet, I’m close to impressionism. And I usually find it a little boring. As said Gauguin about Seurat :

The danger is when the audience drains in assessments

I don’t really need to read ten books about Pissarro to find that he had many styles along his life. The first two pictures : I love. The last one I don’t.

In this last one, I “see what he does”, right? Dots, facets of colors.

If impressionism is to paint impressions, I think it’s a failure here, and I think the two others should be called “impressionist”! You feel the mood of these places. Not in the last one, right?

This article, I guess, is about this question :

What is better? What do I like? To feel a painting, or to understand it?

My answer comes while I write this article :

I prefer to have to understand, but when it raises an eyebrow of mine. For the last painting, I understand what’s the painter’s point, but it’s too simple. Dots! All right…

It’s why I prefer Manet, which was within the impressionists and was a friend, but not really. His paintings are gorgeous (feeling) and also enigmas (understanding).

You can read the Wiki about Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_D%C3%A9jeuner_sur_l%E2%80%99herbe – it gives an idea, and this painting is, even today, not “solved”.

PS :

One of the great exercises you have to do when you study Art is the effort you have to do to displace your brain in the era, to find and understand how it was a scandal or a marvel at this time… As Bourdieu says : to denormalize what is banal today.

Thanks for reading!

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How to deal with the Sharing Boiling Syndrome & let go, silly…

Sharing Boiling Syndrome. This is a feeling I know pretty well. What about you?

If you discover something great AND everybody’s on it, you’re cool. You talk about the “last thing”, a good movie, some music, a best seller, with everybody. Great!

But if you discover something incredibly interesting but it comes “out” of the thin surface of the “news”, you have it :

The Sharing Boiling Syndrome – let’s call it the SBS.

I have to say that this year is great for me. I’m definitely in love with a great person, I discovered (and am exploring the works of) a writer (Paul Valéry) and a painter (Edouard Manet) and a photography agency (Magnum Photos).

For me it’s like a Triple-Kingdom, a splendid source of pleasures, ideas and discoveries.

Well, if you follow my blog you already know this : I share plenty of my little seeds with you. I explain the little tools they are. And I like it!

This afternoon, I watched my cat Bidou (who has diabetes and has stopped eating, which worries me a lot) and I read a fantastic book about Manet in the sun of my kitchen. March seems to say : “The sun is not dead, it’s here and it’s warm”. Yeepee!

  1. I’m boiling with pleasure (intelligence is terribly sexy).
  2. I’m boiling with a powerful need to share.

 

Therefore I began a blog post about Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, but I realized I will let go. Maybe.

My lover and my friends know I’m a bit of a lecturer. I share with passion for 5 minutes, then I’m sorry because I’m not sure it’s interesting for the other person.

Bah, it’s the way I am, right?

 

I was like, in the sun : “Let go. Have fun alone. You don’t HAVE to share.”

Okey.

 

But thus I wrote this article to tell about the rush! I found a way for the energy…

Incorrigible!

Thanks for reading!

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Manet by Nadar, 1874

Edouard Manet Quote : “There is only one true thing…

There is only one true thing: instantly paint what you see. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. When you haven’t, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.

Edouard Manet

 

 

“Il n’y a qu’une chose vraie. Faire du premier coup ce qu’on voit. Quand ça y est, ça y est. Quand ça n’y est pas, on recommence. Tout le reste est de la blague”.

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Two Biographies : #Manet

What’s better than a good dive into knowledge, into the life of an important artist, or character? I did it with Brahms, with Faulkner, with Chekhov, with Lincoln, Churchill…

It’s like a travel, an inner one, into history, into a life.

And of course, your choice reveals something about yourself. Why this person?

This winter, I travel with Edouard Manet, a French painter.

I use a few tricks I know.

First : two biographies.

Eric Darragon is a French Art Historian, and James Henry Rubin an American Art Teacher in the State University of New York. I am currently reading these two books at the same time…

Manet “by Zola” is a text from a writer who knew him, and L’Œuvre a novel about this period and this area (artists in Paris in XIXth Century).

I should add the souvenirs of Antonin Proust, Manet’s best friend, and probably the Manet lectures of Bourdieu, a sociologist, in the Collège de France.

I won’t and I can’t tell you why Manet. I’ll only say one aspect : he is on the fence. He’s the first modern. He’s an impressionist, but he’s not. A rebel, but not at all. And so on. It’s so amazing that I explore it very slowly.

Two good biographies is a good knack. You can do it with a battle (the D-Day?), with an event (a revolution?), with a a theme.

Choose one specialist. Then another one from the other side. Then a book from inside.

 

Thanks for reading!

from Instagram: http://ift.tt/2oPsTkR

3 Quotes from Manet : a toolwaltz for artists, painters, thinkers…

“It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more”.

 

“There is only one true thing: Instantly paint what you see”.

 

“But to have spontaneity, one must be master of his art”.

 

Edouard Manet

 

These are good little seeds for artists, thinkers, and artists thinkers.

The middle one is linked to the 1st & 3rd.

The pack is like a loop, right? 1 – 2 – 3 then again. A braid.

Tool :

What’s your braid? When you write a poem, do you tell a story, do you picture a place or a mood, do you work on words as elements : jewelry or photography? If you’re a teacher, what do you weave? Watching the class, the students one by one? Do you invent, or do you follow? In jazz, do you listen to others or do you lead? What about sex? Marketing? Leading a battle? Politics? Making a speech? Being an actor? Conversation?

As always, it’s about

  1. thinking about what you’re doing
  2. draw or find lines, frontiers (spontaneity/mastering, freedom/constraint, casual/focus, one tree/the forest, respect rules/mind of your own, etc)
  3. choose how to balance
  4. move cursors (and pan scales) is necessery
  5. be aware of all of it
  6. or not

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Some examples :

 

 

“An artist should be a spontanéiste. There’s the right term. But to have spontaneity, one must be master of his art. Undirected groping never leads anywhere. One must translate one experiences, but translate it instantaneously, so to speak”

Manet

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Quasars, Fireflies & Seeds : Chronicle 22

“The power of quasars originates from supermassive black holes that are believed to exist at the core of all galaxies”. You don’t need to know more than this little Wikipedia extract. N. Bouvier writes about one quasar moment (in front of a wave passing under an almost frozen sea). I’d say :

You’re in a quiet time with yourself, contemplating nature – or a good idea. But suddenly you click on something in your head, your idea connects with another one, or with a memory, and here we are : you disappear into yourself. You don’t see, nor hear anything. You’re in your own deep space, hidden without even knowing you’re “not here” : your brain has cut the mooring line. Meandering or Dreamery, it is not – these follow what’s around, like when you traintravel – it’s an inner thing. Quasar. You disappear into yourself. When you “come back”, it’s a weird feeling to reconnect with your life and your duties.

 

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Yesterday I met a man in his sixties, he talked about a book named “The Survival of the Fireflies” (La Survivance des Lucioles). In a way, it’s a whole book extending the idea of “Light a candle, you can’t fight the night”. Fireflies are the humans who sparkle little things in the night. A smile, a picture, a little hoping seed, a way tu stay calm, a curiosity, a helping gesture, a painting, a poem, a silence…

“Disappearance of the fireflies” seems a fact, but I’m interested in Didi-Huberman’s book because he agrees but explores deeper : glow gleam glimmer – what kind of resistance is it? Fireflies disappear maybe because we don’t know how to see them anymore? Maybe there’s a way to “organize the retreat”? Can you become one firefly? When and how?

Google will help you. For example I found this :

The book ends with the violent glare of the police torches and helicopter beams sweeping through the fields of Sangatte, and unseen by them, a Kurdish boy dancing in the wind, “his blanket his only drapery: like an ornament of his dignity and somehow his joy despite everything.” – http://www.laurawaddington.com/article.php?article=48

The “joy despite everything” is like the smiling Sisyphus, right?

mu9

Alice Miller studied the school books of this generation, in Germany, who became the Nazis. It’s now known as the Poisonous Pedagogy – “child-raising approaches that damage a child’s emotional development”. Other poisons has been studied ever since, like the King Baby (when you never say no to a child, he becomes a fool) syndrome :

A King Baby copes with life’s difficulties and trials by refusing to accept them and instead focuses on selfish needs and desires. He doesn’t take responsibility for his actions and is always looking for the next reason to laugh and have fun — no matter what the expense.

It is difficult for a King Baby to move out of this role given the fact that he perceives so many advantages to not needing to worry about life.

In China the “one child policy” lead to what they call “Little Emperor Syndrome“.

Today I do wonder what will become of these one year old kids using tablet computers instead of discovering the world. Some studies show that there shouldn’t be any screen from 0 to 3, a little TV from 3 to 6, and tablets at 6 and after. The main problem seems that some parents are pretty sure it’ll make their kid a genius. In fact, it will probably destroy their empathy and bust their future relationships. Thus : Nazis or Fat Potato Sheeps?

mu9

As a bookseller, I ordered and go a biography of Edouard Manet, the French painter. I know for good that this man’s life and art is important. If you agree that Art’s progress is this question : “What is new here?” – Manet pushed many levers.

I opened it at a random page, and read about Lola de Valence, a painting who triggered a poet’s enthusiasm (Baudelaire) :

Here it is, and 3 possible translations :

Lola de Valence

Entre tant de beautés que partout on peut voir,
Je contemple bien, amis, que le désir balance;
Mais on voit scintiller en Lola de Valence
Le charme inattendu d’un bijou rose et noir.

— Charles Baudelaire

Lola of Valencia

Among such beauties as one can see everywhere
I understand, my friends, that desire hesitates;
But one sees sparkling in Lola of Valencia
The unexpected charm of a black and rose jewel.

On Manet’s Picture “Lola of Valencia”

Amongst the myriad flowers on beauty’s stem
It’s hard to choose. Such crowds there are of them
But Lola burns with unexpected fuel
The radiance of a black and rosy jewel.

Lola De Valence

Friends, though on every side of you you see
Such beauties that desire must hesitate,
In Lola de Valence there scintillate
Strange charms o’ a gem of rose and ebony.

The poem has been a scandal in itself (because of the “black and rosy jewel” sexual ambiguity, and was printed and showed next to the painting). This was a strange painting, like a picture taken in a backstage area of a bit dumpy dancer with strong calves. It was a disturbing sight at this time : the decor, the imperfections of the girl, and of the way he painted – with a kind of freedom, an air of casualness… The poem added enough to create a little scandal…

It’s a movement, to read about this in books and on the web, to try to understand what was new in this work, how Manet… Oh, there’s a good page in English in you want to see more : http://www.manet.org/

 

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