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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Impressionist Fact of the Day

posted by on June 25 at 11:00 AM

Let’s stick with Bazille, the friend Monet should be more grateful for. He’s unfortunate again, this time with the ladies. At least the dancers seem to warm up to him.

Bazille’s mother attempted to capitalise on all the social celebrations by putting her son in touch with a young lady, up from Montpellier for the Exposition. But the introduction was not a success. ‘If I were a few years younger and had a few more hairs on my head … ’ he ruefully explained (he was twenty-seven). He had made a far more diverting discovery: the wings of the Opéra. ‘Don’t worry,’ he assured his mother. ‘I bring to it all the necessary objectivity, don’t be alarmed.’ The Paris Opéra was glamorous, gilded and spectacular, dazzling with opulence in the shimmering gaslight. But backstage was another world: cold, grimy, and inhabited by ‘dirty machinists, very dumb musicians, a very old [choreographer] Monsieur Auber, and everyone only thinks about getting her job done as quickly as possible to earn a living.’ Bazille was spellbound, chatting with the dancers about their high rents, their dogs and their cats, and fascinated to discover that none of them had a clue what was happening on stage except when she had to go on, and none had ever really thought about why she danced.

From Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of Impressionists, a slightly trashy book I’m reading in honor of the SAM show.

I couldn’t find any paintings of dancers by Bazille, but here is his “objective” view of three women, Toilet, from 1869-70.

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he sounds sad.

Posted by max solomon | June 25, 2008 11:42 AM

Once again you inspire me. However, the UO's museum (Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art) is opening a show called "Faster, High, Farther: The Spirit of Track-and-Field Sports," and I don't think there's a single book or piece of information about running or javelin-ing that I want to convey to the overwhelmed-with-Olympic-Trials-trivia Eugene public. But if you know of any good sporty art history books, I guess I could give it a try. (And when the J-Schnitz's "Cuba Avant-Garde" hits the boards, watch out for the Revolutionary Fact of the Day.) OTOH, I suspect that only the Impressionists (and perhaps the Abstract Expressionists?) can inspire the kind of obsessive/devoted lit you're quoting. Oh, and Michelangelo, of course.
But anyway, thanks. Fun and interesting.

Posted by Suzi | June 25, 2008 11:46 AM

Jen--- I am not clear on why you said "here is his 'objective' view..."

Why use the word 'objective'? Did Bazille claim objectivity of some type in his art?

I don't really know anything about him, so what's up?

Posted by Hartiepie | June 25, 2008 12:31 PM

@3: It's from the excerpt:

‘Don’t worry,’ he assured his mother. ‘I bring to it all the necessary objectivity, don’t be alarmed.’

Posted by Jen Graves | June 25, 2008 1:34 PM

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