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Video transcript

[Music] we're in the quart old galleries looking at mayonnaise bar at the folies-bergere this is a painting that takes place in a cafe concert a bar with entertainment but the entertainment was a little more circus-like than we're used to you can get a sense of that in the top-left corner where we see the calves and feet of an acrobat this was a place for middle class entertainment that was a little gritty er the painting at first seems very straightforward we seem to be looking at a woman who's looking back at us and there's the entertainment just behind her but when we look a little bit more closely you notice that what we're seeing in fact is a reflection she stands in front of a mirror in one of the ways that I can see that most easily is by looking at the gold frame of the mirror the mirror is a reminder that a canvas has for so long been seen as a way of reflecting the world in a true sense Manny's project is to undermine that very old conceit and I'm reminded that we're looking at a MANET immediately because of the gaze of the woman in the painting which is so forthright and so direct but at the same time so unreadable and that reminds me of earlier paintings by MANET like Olympia or the dejeuner sir they're unlike his impressionist colleagues MANET is interested in the human figure in modern life and MANET who had been such an inspiration for the Impressionists is here also responding to the advances that they made the openness of the brushwork and the chandelier might remind us of Renoir's painting of the Moulin de la galette for example at the extreme right we see the reflection of the back of the woman that we're facing but we also see that she's facing a male figure who wears a top hat clearly a patron of this cafe concept and he seems to be close to her as though he's engaged in conversation or asking for a drink and so that must be us and at the same time it can't be us because we're looking directly at her and the reflections off at the side so clearly there is some willful distortion on the part of the artist we know that there was willful distortion because we also have sketches that MANET made that we can compare it to MANET is deliberately transforming his initial sketch in such a way is to up and our expectations of what this painting should be showing us this was in the salon of 1882 and people who went to the salon had expectations of paintings and one of those expectations was that you could read the painting it was legible you could understand your relationship as the viewer to the figures and the painting and the relationship of the figures to one another and MANET is confounding both of those which itself can be read as an aspect of modernity this is all taking place within a new urban context a new Paris that had recently been reconstructed where people of different classes come into contact with each other in the modern world we tend to want to categorize people it helps us to sort out the world that we live in when we're in an urban environment and MANET is insistently refusing to give us a type of person that we can categorize with certainty there was already an uncertainty and a danger around women in the city so a woman at a bar would have been understood as being somewhat sexually available if she was alone and certainly if she was working there so when we take on the physical manifestation of the man with the top hat and we look directly at her we put ourselves in the position of the patron in this bar the question of her availability to us is put front and center is she flirting with us is she keeping a kind of distant reserve MANET has placed her firmly on the other side of a marble slab that seems impenetrable and yet if we look at the reflection there is a closeness there that seems very at odds with the distance that we feel in front of the painting the marble bar that separates us from this woman has almost vanished in the reflection at the extreme right she's unavailable us in that sensual way but the bottles and the fruit and the glasses there and painted an incredibly sensual way so MANET is denying us a closeness that we see in the reflection behind us all across the cafe where we see couples mingling it makes us uncomfortable what is our relationship what will this interaction be like when we approached her and asked for a drink look at her eyes they seem to be at odds with the representation of the mouth the now it seems to have a little bit of a sneer to it where the eyes feel sadder in the sketch she stands with her hands clasped in front of her torso but in the final painting many made her leaned forward slightly by placing her hands on that bar and although that makes us expect her to be a little bit closer to us there still seems to be a distance in her torso so again that tension between distance and closeness many shows his virtuosity not only in the face but also in the two blossoms right before us or for instance in the cut glass which has the fruit MANET as usual as drawing our attention to the fact that this is ain't on a canvas an image which is flat he's denying that desire for an illusion of reality that was also such an important expectation of the salon go there are some passages especially in the reflection where all we're seeing is just touches of blacks and grays and browns and beiges a quick loose handling of paint that is a metaphor I think for the dynamism and the sense of movement and energy in the new modern city of Paris [Music] you [Music]