Edouard Manet (1832-83)

"The Bar at the Foiles Bergere" (1882)

Edouard Manet was obviously not an "Impressionist", although he apparently hung out with them. The impressionists mostly just painted sense data, without engaging with the existential reality of human mortal life except that they as persons applied paint to canvas as part of their lives. But anything honest is a kind of protest against bourgeois "victorian" hypocrisy where tables did not have legs because that was too scandalously erotic, so it is what it is. (Camille Pissarro was a socialist, but I don't see it in his paintings.) Family wealth probably helped Manet to be honest since he did not have to depend on sales of his work and consequently could "say" things that might not sell.

In my freshman year at Yale, in Directed Studies, I took Art History I, taught by Professors George Heard Hamilton and Karsten Harries. Hamilton was a specialist on Manet; he wrote the book, "Manet and his critics" (Yale University Press, 1954). But my little soul wa so devastated and eviscerated by my childrearing including St. Paul's Day Carcel for Pubescent Male Virgins except-for-don't-ask-don't-tell-sex-for-jocks, that it would not have made much difference had Professor Hamilton been an amoeba on Mars. I had been rendered (like fat for lard), thank you, Headmaster S. Atherton Middleton prig and your toadie subordinate masters, post 1863 in USA. Sorry, but I cannot stop thinking how badly those people hurt me.

I sort of liked Manet's paintings, even back in 1964, but so what? The young lady in the above painting, I presume working as bartenderess, looks very enthusiastic about her job and her life in general, doesn't she? Any wonder I like the picture?

"Mlle bartenderess! A round of hemlock for the St. Paul's School for Boys faculty, on me. Thank you. Yes, and my mother too, please. -- V.S.O.P.! Very Socratic Old Philosopher? Tres bien. Nothing for me, thanks. Merci."

Wikipedia says he died from Syphilis. Q: How does a man get syphilis? A: By his healthy natural sexuality being repressed by the prigocracy so he resorts to prostitutes whose health is not protected by the government because that government does not want to own up to producing them and thereby being the root cause of the problem. But Manet surely had to be the most truthful visual artist of his time, at least that I know of. Prigs and prudes do not like to be exposed as prigs and prudes: they like to be painted as stately pillars or respectable society. Maybe Francis Bacon (I was graded in school like a hog carcass...) is Manet's albeit distant spiritual heir in the 20th century? Certainly not Mr. Andy Monroe Soupcan.

Painting by Lesser Ury, style similar to Manet. Bourgeois gentleman being bourgeois, maybe reading the financial news of the day? Private collection.


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BMcC signature seal stamp. Modelled on 18th century messenger's letter box in collection of Suntory Museum, Tokyo. Japanese write poems and prayers on slips of paper which they tie into knots like this shape although with longer legs. Prayers are often tied to branches of trees which can look like they are covered with snow. "Symbol of a symbol, image of an image, emerging from the destiny that is sinking into darkness...." (H. Broch, "The Sleepwalkers", p.648) Always remember. Add value. (This image created not later than 21 May 2003)Invenit et fecit

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2022-05-25 08:27:50