EDOUARD MANET ( 1832-1883) FLANEUR EXTRADORDINARE AND FOUNDER OF MODERNISM. AN EXPLORATION OF THIS REVOLUTIONARY ART MOVEMENT WHOSE IMPETUS WAS THE THIRD FRENCH REPUBLIC: AN APPRECIATION OF MANET , CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926) PIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR (1841-1919) CAMILLE PISSARRO (1830-1903) EDGAR DEGAS ( 1834- 1917) AND ALFRED SISLEY ( 1839-1899). PART 5

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In the concluding part of my discussion of Impressionism I will be considering the role of the Flaneur , the rise of Bourgeois and petit Bourgeois artists and writers who  strove to establish themselves in 19th Century Paris.

19th Century art a critical history gives a useful social commentary of the Milieu which Manet and his friends would inhabit.

” The extent of the erosion of the rich and complex symbolic life in Paris during the 2nd empire can easily be exaggerated . the fear and disparagement of Modernity after all are integral parts of Modern Culture itself”. [1].

” Seeking to cushion themselves against the shocks of Capital or to carve out an Identity in an environment increasingly bereft of Social markers a number of Individuals , including the poet Baudelaire  and the painter Manet adopted the sub-cultural stance of the Flaneur”. [2].

Explaining the role of the Flaneur 19th Century art goes on to describe them as Idlers or Browsers around the streets of Paris.

” The very embodiment of the  modern male individualist became more and more himself. The flaneur was a perpetual Idler, Browser or window shopper who saw the City of Paris as a spectacle created for his entertainment”.[3].

” The street becomes a dwelling place for the Flaneur Walter Benjamin the great Social and Marxist critic wrote. He is as much at home among the facades of homes as a citizen in his four walls”. [4].

1897-99 Water Lilies oil on canvas

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1 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) (2)

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19th Century art continues to describe what constitutes Modernity and elegant society.

” In Music in Tuillieres perhaps the earliest example  of Modern painting in both subject matter and technique. Manet has interspersed his many fashionable friends and acquaintances among a larger cross section of elegant society”. [5].

” Artists like Manet and the Painter and graphic artist Constantine Guys- worked outside the Institutional framework of the academy were natural Flaneurs. they had no fixed occupation and hardly even a settled abode travelling between home and studio and vagrantly searching the city for Models and Motifs”. [6].

19th Century art commenting on what the Flaneur represented decides that he cut a contradictory figure in 19th century France.

” Like Baudelaire the Male artist- Flaneur was a politically contradictory figure. the flaneur was a minor thorn in the side of a despotic regime that survived on the pageant of manipulated consent”. [7].

” He was for the most part (Flaneur) no patriot and no cheerleader yet he was at the same time an eager propagandist for Modernity”. [8].

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19th Century art continues its  commentary on Manet and the social role he played as a driving force in the Impressionist movement in Paris.

” At times however Manet appeared to resist the given structure of class, gender and ideology, thereby achieving something of the Individualist or autonomy which he and his contemporaries claimed to seek”. [9]

” Olympia which immediately eclipsed dejeuner de’herbe as the most notorious painting in the History of art is the case in point. it depicts a naked white woman reclining on a bed gazing at the Viewer and a clothed black woman holding a bouquet of Flowers and gazing at Olympia”. [10].

The Commentary shows how Manet provoked the critics of the Academy who were not prepared for the Revolutionary aspect of Impressionism and was  a direct challenge to the French salon.

” Manet indeed provoked  critics and Bourgeois public alike by his subversion of the genre of the Nude and his rejection of the received ideas of Sex and Race”. [11].

” In the end it must be observed that Manet’s Olympia was probably more Modern than it was avant-garde, although it represented two proletarian Women they were of the politically ambiguous lumpen variety”. [12].

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The commentary of 19th Century art now suggests that  Manet  through his Modernism is  bringing Enlightenment and Utopian pleasure to Paris.

” Like the Flaneur  Manet the Impressionist was determined to discover for themselves a semblance of the Individual freedom , self-determinacy and sensual pleasure that constituted the utopian legacy of Enlightenment and revolution”. [13].

” The Impressionist were indeed Individualists who lacked the world Historical ambition, romantic fervour and avant garde convictions of the two previous generations of French and European artists”. [14].

19th century art considers that the Impressionists around Manet  were too young to be aware of the carnage and destruction carried out against the Commune and Paris itself.

” Born around 1840 they were too young to watch in shock horror the Prussian dismemberment of France in 1870-1 and the French massacre of its own citizens during the suppression of the commune that followed”. [15].

” The Impressionists were thus in the main witnesses of or willing propagandists for the emerging and modern forms of Bourgeois recreation of their day”. [16].

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19th Century art now concludes with two comments about the importance and Influence of Impressionism.

” In 1874 therefore the term Impressionism denoted a vaguely defined technique of Painting and an attitude of individualism shared by a group of allied artists led by Manet “. [17].

” The Impressionists (especially Monet Pissarro , Morisot and Alfred Sisley) painted many of their most ambitious works in Plein -air and discovered a technique for evoking the interaction of light and air in nature”. [18].

This concludes my discussion of Impressionism a Revolutionary art Movement founded in Paris by the Flaneur  Edouard  Manet. In future articles I will be concentrating on Art Nouveau and Art Deco decorative movements which emerged before and after the First world war.

FOOTNOTES

  1. 19TH CENTURY ART A CRITICAL HISTORY: MODERN ART AND LIFE: MANET AND THE IMPRESSIONISTS. PG. 283
  2. DITTO.PG.283
  3. DITTO.PG.283
  4. DITTO.PG.282
  5. DITTO.PG.283
  6. DITTO.PG.284
  7. DITTO.PG.284
  8. DITTO.PG.284
  9. DITTO.PG.285
  10. DITTO.PG.285
  11. DITTO.PG.286
  12. DITTO.PG.288
  13. DITTO.PG.288
  14. DITTO.PG.288
  15. DITTO.PG.288
  16. DITTO.PG.288
  17. DITTO.PG.290
  18. DITTO.PG.290

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