The Balcony – 1869 – Oil on canvas, 170 x 124 cm – Musee d’Orsay, Paris – E. Manet.
The artists whome’s paintings could be considered as the genesis of Modern art would eventually become modern art. Edouard Manet, possibly the greatest among impressionist painters, we could even see him as the founder for that matter.
This painting might appeal as realistic portrait of bourgeois life. Yet this is not the case, all the models used in this painting were acquaintances of the artist, especially Berthe Morisot (the girl sitting in the foreground), who makes her first appearance in Manet’s work, who went on to become one of it’s favorite models.
“Color is a matter of taste and of sensitivity”- E. Manet
What was even less conventional for that time, which was a time where academical constraints were still in play, and “good” painters were those who belong to the academy and therefor painted so. But Manet was radically freeing himself from these constraints by not showing any story or anecdote; it seems like the protagonists are frozen, “as if isolated in an interior dream”.
He tried to free himself, despite the reference tot Goya’s Majas at the Balcony (See below) which the artist could have most likely seen during his trip to spain in 1865. Goya treated his protagonist in a more sinister manner (watched by two man in the background, dark surroundings). The two girls are dressed like majas, which in other paintings of his would refer to prostitutes.
Majas on a Balcony – Francisco de Goya y Lucientes – Oil on canvas – 1810-1812
As Manet was surely to be inspired by Goya, so was Manet an inspiration to later painters, as his paintings were to be considered as the genesis of modern art . Less then a century later this happens..
Manet’s Balcony – Rene Magritte – 1950 -Oil on Canvas.
“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” – R. Magritte
This work belongs to a series of paintings; “the perspective paintings”. Magritte based these paintings on well-known works by french artists (Jacques Louis David, Éduoard Manet, François Gerard). The painting is executed in Magritte’s carefully detailed style and might be seen as an irreverent rendition of the neoclassical masterpiece which is suffused with mordant wit. This must be a statement right? Did he just kill, buried Manet? Or rather the subjects that used to be on the painting? As I’m living/ studying in Ghent, where this painting is shown, I have the privilege of seeing it whenever I like and I have to be honest; it strikes me every single time.. It seems to embody this morbid atmosphere, but yet such cool, calming colors.. It’s confusing, it makes me think, it makes good art.