Before my grandfather passed away, my mother and I would travel to San Francisco twice a year to visit her parents. When I was around the age of seventeen, while sitting next to him reading a book that I had brought from home, he suddenly got up from his rocking chair and took this book-(manet of which its backcover is photographed as shown) out from his shelf and handed to me. My grandfather then was a retired vascular surgeon whom habitually held the most reserved mannerism and his laconic speech made everyone of his children and grandchildren alike felt intimidated and inevitably awkward when around him. For some reason, I always understood him even when I was just sitting quietly next to him. He liked that, because he simply adored quietness and required it at all time no matter what kind of domestic activity that was going around him. This tendency, I attributed to his life-long dedication of being an excellent surgeon and a positively stern professor of medicine.
Most people that knew him would be taken by surprised of the fact that my grandfather was also a very passionate art-lover. When he was around his colleagues, they talked about art and exchanged ideas. He often said that Chinese doctors should be more like the European doctors because they were not only serious medical scientists but always held high regards for the appreciation of fine art. Thus, he and I had this connection one that built upon our love of art. Though at the time, being a bit wild and rebellious (a typical trait for young art-school goers, perhaps) upon receiving this book, I was not terribly thrilled. It looked old-fashioned and a little boring to me. And yes, I was also ignorant but arrogant about many things, just as any other fresh starters in a art college.
Luckily, times have changed for the better, now in my early thirties and have acquired some knowledge of the history of Western paintings, Manet was far beyond old-fashioned. In fact, he was a rebel of the Salon and a tradition-defying painter of his time.
Recently I have been reading this book of Foucault's lecture on a series of paintings by Manet. This lecture was delivered in and around 1967 to 1971 when he was given the post of Professor at the Collège de France, Paris. (...more to come)