A Bar at the Folies Bergere

My replica of A Bar at the Folies Bergere is approaching completion at last.

Marie Wise, artistIt’s been a long time in the works. Forever in fact, for this artist compared to how long my paintings usually take.

My replica of A Bar at the Folies Bergere, the last major work by French artist Edouard Manet, is approaching completion.

Here’s the underpainting.

Note I said approaching. Which in theory means almost finished, but in reality means the hump has been scaled but herculean effort is still required.

I call her the ‘whore‘.  It’s not a slur. She probably was, according to historical research, although not in the same sense we recognize today.

Art historians say the woman at the bar is a real person, known as Suzon, who worked at the Folies-Bergère, a popular nightclub in Paris in the early 1880s. By including a dish of oranges in the foreground, Manet identifies the barmaid as a prostitute, for which the Folies-Bergère was well-known, She is represented as both a salesperson and a commodity—something to be purchased along with a drink.

The painting was first exhibited in 1882, at the annual fine arts exhibition in Paris, the Salon. Visitors and critics found the composition unsettling. The inaccuracy of the barmaid’s reflection, shifted too far to the right, has continued to spark much debate.

Marie Wise, artist

The more one reflects on Manet’s painting, the more difficult it becomes to project a straightforward narrative onto it, and the more conscious and uncertain we become of our position as spectators.

Much information can be found on the websites of the J. Paul Getty Museum on exhibiting the painting in 2007, and on the Courtald Gallery, owner of the painting.

The light in this painting might be fleeting, the action momentary, the reflection clouded with smoke and mirrors, but her hold on me is very real. She’s got me in chains–I can’t work on any other paintings until she’s finished, and I’m determined to get her finished.

Marie Wise, artist