This site is an archive of Animating Art History, a widening participation partnership between The Courtauld Institute of Art and University of the Arts London, that ran from 2009-2014. Follow the links to find animations, photographs and texts making connections with artworks in the collection.
Shanika and Cham, Dying of Boredom, 2010
Inspired by Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies Bergère, 1882.
The painting we have chosen is called A Bar at the Folies Bergère painted by Eduard Manet in 1882. We chose this particular painting because of the scene and the experiments with perspective and reflection. Paintings of café scenes are like snap shots of social life in Paris at the time and Manet’s paintings were based on sketches made on the spot. He would often visit different places and get an impression of the style to capture the mood and feeling of Parisian nightlife.
We wanted to express the barmaid’s thoughts and feelings in an imaginative way and were most interested in the trapeze artist in the painting. When you look at the painting you don’t realize there’s a trapeze artist at the top left corner. We decided to do an animation based on her being bored and imagining the trapeze artist doing acrobatics on the table top of the bar.
The Folies-Bergère was Paris’s first music hall. A magazine described its atmosphere of ‘unmixed joy’ where everyone spoke ‘the language of pleasure’. It was notorious for the access it gave to prostitutes. The barmaids, according to the poet Maupassant, were ‘vendors of drink and of love’.
This picture was Manet’s last major work, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882. Manet knew the Folies-Bergère well. He made preparatory sketches on site, but the final painting was executed in his studio. He set up a bar and employed one of the barmaids, Suzon, to pose behind it.
Manet’s picture is unsettling. An acrobat’s feet, clad in green boots, dangle in the air. The quickly sketched crowds convey the bustle of the Folies-Bergères. In contrast, the barmaid is detached and marooned behind her bar, with her reflection displaced to the right. She stares at the viewer, but the mirror shows her facing a customer.