Nature of objects: a semi-book review and an outline of ideas

Since back in April, I had left a semi-book / artist review behind.  For the reasons that my first attempt had a little too much personal sentiment about an old book that was given to me as a gift, but it was more for the reason that I found both Foucault and Manet not easy to write about intelligently or intelligibility in a blog format.  Here, I am making my third attempt hoping to capture and convey some of my main interests in this book and about Manet's paintings.

The initial idea of wanting to write about Manet came from this little book (images 2-4) that was given to me as a gifts as a child.  For this endearing gesture of my late Grandfather, it has inadvertently influenced me in college years and my choice of profession presently. However, the book that has hitherto brought me to further action of writing this post is this one (image 1) that I found out about through a dear old friend of mine whom had a keen interest in philosophy and art history.

Front cover (image 1)

Back to the book, it is called Manet and the Object of Painting a book based on a lecture of which Foucault had delivered between the years of 1967-1971 when he received the post of Professor at the Coll├Ęge de France in Paris.  The text is translated from French by Matthew Barr, published by Tate in 2009 with an introduction by Nicolas Bourriaud.

This is probably the most accessible text you will ever find by Foucault.  The book opens very casually as he makes an apology to his audience about how tired might appear and that it had to do with the fact that he was spread too thin  amongst is scholarly tasks.  Although Foucault makes clear in his introduction that he is no Manet expert, however there are these ideas expressed in the book of which I find very informing in terms of how Manet's paintings have influenced the development of paintings in Western history of art:

1. Manet's pictorial representation of reality in fact doesn't represent or reflect reality in its actual existence.  In other words, it implies to deceive our eyes and leads us to questions our ability to distinguish reality from representation of reality. 

2. Manet's choice to paint his subjects in such ways that we as the spectators can only speculate the cause of their actions-which is to say, the narrative is always sort of open, one that requires the spectator to come to his or her own conclusion.

3. Because his paintings seem to bare little coherence to the ordinarily observable reality, that gives Manet's paintings a unique quality of paintings as objects (or the painting is the entity of itself as an object in physical existence), this inevitably also is a gateway to the discussion of non-presentational paintings and modern abstraction.

4. Since the spectator has been left with the task of completing the narrative; this dives into a very modern question of which Marcel Duchamp stated once: "It is the viewers who made the pictures?"

All in all, this is a very entertaining book within the subject of art history.  I don't think the word "entertaining" could be applied to many other books of art history.   Upon reading, you would also find moments of humor though they might not have been fully intended initially.  For example, during his lecture the slide projector suddenly decided to jam and thus caused an interruption.  This incident some how humorously paints a mental image for the readers of Foucault whom in the midst of his lecture is confronted by a technical challenge posed by his own slide projector. 

(The back cover of the book) A gift given by my grandfather
He received it as a gift from a French doctor whom was a colleague
(image 2)

(First page with the Doctor's note) A gift given by my grandfather
He received it as a gift from a French doctor whom was a colleague
(image 3)

(The front cover of the book) A gift given by my grandfather
He received it as a gift from a French doctor whom was a colleague

(image 4)


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