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Video transcript

we're looking at Mena's the balcony it's really an extraordinary paint I mean clearly he's looking at Goya we have a number of recognizable figures with the exception of the servant in the background who's barely visible we have a painter who's standing the male EMA a woman on the right who is a violinist an important friend and painter Bert Mora so it feels to me very much like a painting about greens and blacks the Greens of the shutters the green of the balustrade the whites of their dresses and the colors are just lovely so almost like a Whistler in that it's kind of a study of color but also a feeling very much of that kind of thing that we expect of MANET of an image of modern urban life and although we don't see a city here it's implied that we're among the fashionable class of the city the man looks very much like the type of a Flener and the women are clearly upper-class and there's a feeling of leisure of being urban and sophisticated and looking out over the balconies of Paris onto the streets below enjoying the crowd and the flow of people and also that sense of being disconnected themselves so while they're observing the flow of Modern Life they don't interact with each other they're in their own minds in a way and they don't interact with the life beyond the balustrade either and so that that sense of dislocation is I think really important to this painting it's all about different kinds of separation isn't it but I'm struck by the ways in which the male artist is standing and gazing out upward slightly and moreso ZAR the only eyes and remember you know she's so much of about sight and vision itself as an artist as a painter yeah but her eyes are the only ones that are distinct in focus and she seems to be gazing in a way that is full of a kind of awareness it's true there's a kind of consciousness that he's given her that he hasn't given the other two figures exactly or as much consciousness so I'm also interested in space here because in the traditional Second Empire Houseman architecture you have a balcony but it tends to be very narrow and shallow balcony and that shallowness is evident here there's just enough room for a potted hydrangea which is really beautifully rendered and of course this is all very fashionable as you said you have the porcelain balls down below and the Blues of the hydrangea end of the Vaz play against the greens in a really subtle and interesting way this painting really is about in a sense the alienation of modern life you know when we say alienation it has a negative connotation and there's part of me that wonders maybe this isn't negative maybe this is just a quality of feature a felt characteristic of modern life of being located more in a individual subjectivity less in a community this way that the subjective and the individual comes more and more to the fore in the late 19th century and that personal subjective quality of vision does too and there are formal ways that that is achieved I mean not only are the figures looking in each of their own directions in a sense preoccupied by modern life but the most striking aspects that they hold each one is sort of facing a different direction you've got the green umbrella diagonal right you've got that brown fan that more so holds diagonal left and then you've got the tie which is in a sense it's a it's visual equivalent yeah which is sort of moving just vertically it moves out into it in its own sort of separate way this is a painting about its fashionable nurse it's not just that he's rendering just how chic they are but this is a painting that celebrates the very notion of a bush woth fashion