Various Perspectives: Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere effectively speaks volumes without requiring words, or even a detailed analysis by professionals. With anything longer than a quick glance, the viewer can extract from the painting an air of boredom, separation, and perhaps even contempt. The composition of the painting pulls us away from the scene, taking us into a withdrawn space. The audience will glimpse a woman who seems to be as far away as she could be from the scene, mentally.
They can see a face stuck with melancholy, any emotionality in her eyes speaking of sadness, and a longing to be anywhere else. We will beg the perspective of: 1. The Artists Positional Perspective 2. The Woman in the Pai 3. The Artist’s Personal Perspective 4. The Viewer of the Piece PAINTER’S POSITIONAL PERSPECTIVE From the viewers point, the painting almost looks inaccurate in perspective. There are several errors in his various pieces of artwork, and that stands true for this particular piece.
Without an explanation, it appears that we are looking at one young woman, while an older woman stands behind her and takes an order from an older, well dressed gentleman. However, this is not the case, as far as most speculation goes. It is now popularly understood that we are looking through a mirror at this scene, and the two women are actually one in the same. As a viewer, it’s hard to understand just where this mirror would have to be placed to achieve this sort of positioning.
To understand it, the audience has to think of this at more of a diagonal angle than traight on. Detailed charts can be found that explain just where we are looking from, but it all still looks unnatural. Manet is known for doing things like this. As the man who influenced Modernity very heavily, taking a step back from the classical perspective was huge. He seemed to reject the laws of perspective which had been universally used until then. He put to work this idea of altered perspectives in several other pieces, including Baudelaire’s mistress, reclining (1862), Execution of the Emperor Maximilian (1867) and The barricade (1871).
At first glance, all of these seem to be inaccurate, as if something was wrong with them. All of these paintings happened before Bar at Folies-Bergere, and as Manet’s last masterpiece, he seems to be combining several ideas from previous works to give us this interesting viewpoint, and even more interesting subject matter. The various drinks, flowers and even the glass bowl of oranges appear as if they are in reach from where the viewer stands.
This is the product of the skewed perspective of the painting; while it pulls the woman back and away from us, it pushes the objects in front of her into our space. However, there is a lot more going on than just an interesting, almost confusing positional perspective. WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE We have explored our perspective towards the painting, but what about the perspective from the subject matter? What is this woman thinking, and why does it look as if she would prefer to be somewhere else?
The woman in this painting tells a story contrary to the excitement and energy that almost exists in this piece. As a party rages behind her, with entertainment, drink and high class, this woman seems to lack an enthusiasm for her current position. If we review her position at this bar, she is almost not even facing the man she is assisting, though the reflection appears to tell a different story.
A certain sadness almost seems to resonate in her face, her eyes focused on some far away object as she listens to the crowds shouting and the cts happening for the hundredth time, finding no amusement there. Her mind is probably drifting towards home, or to another place where she could find comfort. This seems to be the only part of the painting that reflects the truth of reality; while the rest of the painting is very blurry and strange, her face tells us exactly what it would be like to work that position for an extended period of time. Even dressed in her beautiful attire, soft velvet and elegant jewelry, she is not impressed with her situation.
The idea of distance and detachment illustrated in this photo was the beginning of the trend of exploring the darker, more emotional side of artistic expression. Staying within the realm of realism, future arts produced works exploring moral fault, abuse and depression. This is a concept within art that embodies modernism and the movement of art into our century; instead of the classic religious or morally just subject matter, artists started to look at the world not for just the beautiful, pleasing things but for the real life drama that had been ignored for hundreds of years.
THE ARTIST’S PERSPECTIVE It is understood that Manet had completely given up on the idea of painting the world as someone would see it; there are flaws in many aspects of the painting, from visual perspectives, to dimensions, to the very setting of the painting. To understand where Manet is coming from, we have to look at his early career. Gifted by the fact that his family’s wealth allowed him to paint more for the sake of painting than making a living, Manet was able to explore some areas of art that were not yet discovered, and where most definitely not yet approved.
The Luncheon on the Grass was one such painting that would serve to horrify people and question the values behind classical painting. Manet pointed out that such works of art had been done before, with very similar subject matter and depiction, but were upheld to the highest standards of art. He questioned why the people would criticize his artwork so roughly. ” He made no transition between the light and dark elements of the picture, abandoning the usual subtle gradations in favour of brutal contrasts, thereby drawing reproaches for his “mania for seeing in blocks”.
And the characters seem to fit uncomfortably in the sketchy background of woods from which Manet has deliberately excluded both depth and perspective. ” This same ideation seems to hold onto his Bar at the Folies-Bergere, where the world is not illustrated as it would be in a photograph. There has been speculation as to why Manet painted his works like this. Why did he diverge so far from what had been established in the art world so far? What was wrong with the accurate representations of body and light? Why was he experimenting with such abstract representations?
These are questions that may only ever be debated and never truly discovered. Manet worked to create something of his own style, whether or not he knew it. His first submissions to the French Salon where rejected for their ‘abstract’ concepts and techniques, but eventually his Olympia was accepted into the prestigious art show. By the end of his life, Manet was a well renowned artist. He would influence arts for generations to come, as his painting style gave way to impressionism and realism. So what do the viewers get from this painting?
THE VIEWERS PERSPECTIVE It’s difficult to find a piece of work that raises so many questions. For a painting just over 3 feet by 4 feet, the amount of detail found within the quick, sharp strokes of Manet in this painting are astounding. A piece of work that confuses the mind and makes the eyes wander, while comprehension takes a lot of intense studying, is artwork worth note. While Raphael would have clarified all of the details and given a quiet grace to the face of this woman, only a unique mind like Manet would have been able to give so much tension and discomfort to such a simple face.
Long gone are the ideals of the classic masters; wha egins in this painting is a reflection not of exact accurate representation of life, but a very clear view into the mind of this woman, stuck in a place she is less than pleased with. The viewers are able to put themselves in her place, feel the emotions seep into themselves as they relate with her, stuck in their own miserable reality. Manet began to revolution of looking past pure beauty, and instead instilled raw emotion purity into his art work.