Bar aux Folies-Bergere (The Bar at the Folies-Bergere) 1881
bar maid is represented in such a way that she is visually pleasing
to the male viewer. Manet
wanted to show this woman as a working woman not just serving drinks
to men, but also as a part of the entertainment of the bar itself. Although this painting was exhibited in the Salon in 1882
and very successful, it is still a very modern picture. Critics today
question the participation of the viewer
in this painting--on the
one hand, the viewer would be reflected on the wide mirror in the back,
however, since this is a painting, no such reflection occurs...
painting ballet dancers, Degas turned his interest briefly to laundresses. It is believed that many of these pictures
were finished with the help of photographs that he took of these women
in Le Bar aux Folies Bergere, the woman is placed frontally,
facing the viewer, as if asking whether the client needs tending
theme of urban working women was a break from the usual Salon portrayal
Henri de Toulouse Lautrec
Elles, The Seated Clown (Mlle. Chao-U-Kao)
as a post impressionist, shocked many of his contemporaries with his
studies of women "of the night".
This included women performers, dancers (such as Jane Avril,
Loie Fuller, and La Goulue--famous for her can can dances), singers
(such as Yvette Guilbert), clowns such as the woman we see in this
litograph, Elles,The Seated Clown (Mlle. Cha-U-Kao), and several
Chao-U-Kao, as she was called, was photographed doing the splits on
a decorated trunk chest. In this piece, she opens her legs with her
folded hands suggesting her sex. This type of pose was perhaps never
explored in the history of painting until Lautrec had the gumption
to portray women in these poses.
It is not clear whether Mlle.
Chao-U-Kao performed on stage as well as off-stage for money. Here
she seems tired and dejected, on her own, as in the background a gentleman
and his escort walk off into a brightly lit room. Lautrec did a series
of lithographs of "women performers of the night" called
Elles--this is one in that series.
color used by Lautrec is strident.
The bright yet dirty yellows, the jaded pinks. The faded colors of worn-off make up on the clown's face.The
black emphasizing the wide open stance of the woman.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Yvette Guilbert Greeting the Public 1894
Although the woman portrayed in this piece seems to be at least middle-aged,
this was in fact a portrayal of the young Yvette Guilbert, a renowned
cabaret performer and singer. What Lautrec drew was the dramatic insight
that this performer brought to her songs. Without a prop, she would
create drama or comedy from her short poems or songs. She could impersonate
old bag ladies, prostitutes, men on the scaffold, and cynical gentlemen
with her impressive vocal range and stage presence. Sigmund Freud,
a friend of Guilbert, tried to analyse her technique but admitted
it was a mystery
as to how she could vividly impersonate such a wide variety of characters--and
how the audience would unanimously answer "yes" to the question
she threw on stage Dites-moi si je suis belle? or Say yes
if I am beautiful?
could have been influenced by Japanese prints on this particular
piece. The starkness of the composition, the coloring, and the
flat perspective, show traits of the "floating world"
of Japanese artists.
critics of the time considered Lautrec's work "filth" because
of its frank subject matter. He had no compunction about depicting
the night life in which he was completely immersed. At one time in
his life, he lived in a room in a Paris whorehouse.