Thursday, May 20, 2010

Manet and the Object of Painting Manet and the Object of Painting by Michel Foucault


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Manet, to me, is sort of like wallpaper. I noticed it for a second and then moved on to the other room. But since reading this beautifully designed slim book by Michel Foucault, I now see him in a new light.

This is actually a lecture that Foucault did on Manet sometime in the early 1070's. Compared to his other writings, this is very much a book you can read on a good bus ride from Downtown L.A. to the beach. The thing I like about it is that Foucault is not an art reviewer or someone from that world. He's looking at the artwork from a totally different angle, which of course makes it an unique study on an artist's work.

Foucault focuses on maybe 10 paintings by Monet and comments on the space and lighting in the paintings. Reading the text I start noticing rather eccentric aspects of Monet's work that I didn't observed in the first place.

Foucault's observations are very focused, but done in a way where the reader or perhaps if you were in the audience at the time, start making your own connections to the work on hand. For me this makes excellent art criticism.

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