Chantel, Jaz, Oshane, The Bar at the Folie-Bergère, 2012

Chantel, Jaz, Oshane, Edouard Manet, The Bar at the Folie-Bergère, 1882

Inspired by Edouard Manet, The Bar at the Folie-Bergère, 1882

We chose The Bar at the Folie-Bergère because we liked the idea of the painting having lots of symbolism in it. We were drawn to the fact that the oranges were a lot clearer and more detailed than the barmaid and the fact that the painting seeks to confuse the viewer. We wanted to explore the positioning of the reflections in the mirror and why the artist chose to misrepresent the position of the characters in the painting.

We started to research the artist and his artworks, trying to figure out ways in which we could implement his technique into our own work. We discovered the significance of certain contextual elements, for example the fact that a single bracelet worn on a woman’s right wrist might have meant at the time that she was single. The bottles on the counter were contemporary of Manet’s time period. We also looked at the deeper ideas in the painting, focusing on social façades in society and maintaining one’s image, despite being very isolated from it.

After looking at the way in which the image portrayed two versions of the barmaid, we decided that our photograph would seek to represent how one tries to appear to the world, focusing on appearances and then representing the true nature of the person alongside. We did this through the use of double exposure. Through this technique we showed ourselves in one shot, wearing a fake smile with a blackberry in hand, signifying the idea of representation on social networking devices. In the second take we reflected the more sombre and realistic side of a person, which one rarely sees. This was because we felt that the image of the barmaid was a split second representation of the moment she lets her mask fall and we see the real her.

We also explored the idea of reflections of light in a mirror, taking various photographs around the building as well as experimenting with double exposure through the bottles laid out on the table. This was developed by photographing reflections of shapes in a mirror however, we decided to stick with the more literal representation of the image with our final image being the double exposure of a figure in our final image.

Inspired by:

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folie-Bergère, 1882

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folie-Bergère, 1882

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.