Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Bar at the Folies Bergere

Until the late 1800s, most famous paintings on a single canvas were frozen images. In other words, artists  did not convey the passage of time. Edouard Manet drastically changed this when he painted "A Bar at the Folies Bergere." 

At first glance, the background looks like a mirror. Because of this, we are able to visualize everything that the bartender is seeing. Part of the background, however, does not make sense physically if we are to believe in the mirror image interpretation. Notice the two people conversing in the back. One is obviously the bartender and the other is a man. It is clear that this can't be a reflection because the angles are completely off. This proves that in once instance, the young woman is serving this stranger and afterwards they move off to the side and discuss other business. Of course, there are numerous other things that can be said about this painting (i.e the social position of this woman, the reason why she is looking at the viewer, what was being discussed, etc.) but this post is specifically about the importance and influence of the fourth dimension--time. 

Paul Cezanne, a famous painter that emerged in the late 1800s, was deeply influenced by the passage of time in paintings. "Still Life with Basket of Apples" (1895) is a great example of this. 

When Professor Caffey first showed us this painting, I honestly thought "so...?" It was beautifully crafted, however, I failed to see message that was being conveyed and how it linked to Monet's "A Bar at the Folies Bergere." The message isn't shown by the apples or champagne bottle or eclairs, but by the table. Like "A Bar at the Folies Bergere" the angles are off here. This shows us that Cezzane began his paintings in one area, and started in other, thus showing the passage of time.

 Another one of his works include "The Card Players."  

Even though he did not depict moving hands or cards, the fourth dimension was still emphasized through his use of light. 

With the rise of television, internet, photography, etc. It's much easier to display time passing. We take it for granted and fail to realize how different it was back then. The fact that these artists conveyed time in such a subtle but powerful way (in their day and age) is revolutionary. 

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