Davies, Penelope J. E., Denny, Walter B., Hofrichter, Frima Fox
Edouard Manet was one of the most innovative and controversial artists in the 19th century. A painter of modern life, he portrayed the new leisure activities of Parisian aristocracy and bourgeoisie. A Bar at the Folies-Bergere reflects Manet's interest in the new social mobility of Parisian society as a result of the Industrial Revolution and the interaction of classes. The viewer is presented with a mirror set close behind the barmaid, which reflects the densely packed sparkling interior of the famous dance hall that virtually symbolized Parisian nightlife at the time. Also reflected in the mirror is a man across the counter, facing the barmaid. The scene suggests that he is propositioning her, for as is well known, the servers were as available as the drinks and the sexually symbolic fruit on the counter. Strikingly in contrast with the buoyant setting, this act of interaction between social classes reflects the grim aspect of modern life that comes with the increasing commodification of society. But as is typical of Manet, the picture, filled with references and hidden meanings, defies any one interpretation and is open to multiple readings. Book jacket.Davies, Penelope J. E. is the author of 'Janson's History of Art The Western Tradition', published 2006 under ISBN 9780131934788 and ISBN 0131934783.
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