The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society

By Linda Nochlin | Go to book overview

as it is in Manet's whimsical single stalk of asparagus, his lone rose, his centralized pickle jar: it is not the result of the observation of a specific social situation, it is an artful and pathetic statement of how it is to be an artist, how it is simply to be in the world at all.

This vision of isolation receives its apotheosis in A Bar at the Folies- Bergère [6], perhaps the most poignant image of alienation ever painted, a deadly serious spoof of Watteau Gilles in completely modern "naturalist" terms, the anonymous yet concrete figure trapped between the world of tangible things and that of impalpable reflections, existing only as a way station between life and art. It is upon just such bad faith and alienation and the marvelously inventive, destructive, and self-destructive ways of making art about them that the modern avant-garde has built ever since. This is far indeed from Courbet's unified and unselfconscious vision of art and society--and his own direct and unambiguous relation to both-in the 1855 The Painter's Studio: A Real Allegory of Seven Years of My Life as an Artist.


Notes
1.
Henri de Saint-Simon, Opinions littéraires, philosophiques et industrielles ( Paris, 1825), cited in Donald D. Egbert, "The Idea of 'Avant-garde' in Art and Politics", The American Historical Review 73, no. 2 ( December 1967): 343.
2.
Cited by Renato Poggioli, The Theory of the Avant-garde, trans. Gerald Fitzgerald ( Cambridge, Mass., 1968), p. 9.
3.
Cited by Peter Collins, Changing Ideals in Modern Architecture: 1750-1950 ( London, 1965), pp. 261-62.
4.
"Pierre Dupont," originally published 1851, Baudelaire, Oeuvres complètes, ed. Y.-G. Le Dantec and C. Pichois ( Paris, 1961), pp. 605, 612, 614.
5.
Poggioli, op. cit., p. 10.
6.
See, for example, his deliberately provocative behavior toward the Comte de Nieuwerkerke, Director-General of the Imperial Museums, and his activities related to the Vendôme column incident during the Commune.
7.
Collected Works, ed. E. T. Cook and A. Wedderburn ( London, 1902-12), XIV, p. 60. The painting is now in the Tate Gallery.
8.
See Pierre Gaudibert's extremely interesting analysis of Delacroix essential conservatism, "Eugène Delacroix et le romantisme révolutionnaire: A Propos de La Liberté sur les barricades", Europe 41 ( April 1963): 4-21. For Guérin's influence on the Liberty, see Sixten Ringbom, "Guérin, Delacroix and 'The Liberty", Burlington Magazine 110 ( 1968): 270-74.

-17-

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The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Acknowledgments x
  • Introduction xii
  • Notes xxiii
  • 1- The Invention of the Avant-Garde: France, 1830-1880 1
  • Notes 17
  • 2- Courbet, Oller, and a Sense Of Place: the Regional, The Provincial, and the Picturesque In 19th-Century Art 19
  • Notes 32
  • 3- The Imaginary Orient 33
  • Notes 57
  • 4- Camille Pissarro: The Unassuming Eye 60
  • Notes 74
  • 5- Manet's Masked Ball at the Opera 75
  • Notes 92
  • 6- Van Gogh, Renouard, And The Weavers' Crisis in Lyons 95
  • 7- Léon Frédéric And The Stages of a Worker's Life 120
  • Notes 139
  • 8- Degas and the Dreyfus Affair: A Portrait of the Artist As an Anti-Semite. 141
  • Notes 164
  • 9- Seurat's La Grande Jatte: An Anti-Utopian Allegory 170
  • Notes 190
  • Index 194
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