Monday, April 4, 2011

Plum Painting

by RCremins

Remarks by Profs Estess and Maya today in lecture reminded me of a painting I saw this weekend at the wonderful Impressionist exhibition at the MFAH. We heard about Whitman's "exuberant urbanism" and Baudelaire's observation of "the lonely crowd" (with Dr. Estess reminding us that Whitman too has his dark side).

The young woman in Manet's Plum Brandy is surely part of that lonely urban army. She is too plainly dressed to be the "woman passed" in the Baudelaire poem Dr. Maya talked about, but she could be the woman from the "populous city" that Whitman left behind...

There she is with her cigarette and her aperitif (two of the "discreet pleasures," to quote Dr. Morrisson, that the "present age" spends so much time consuming), but it looks as if neither of them are giving her much satisfaction, or will give her much satisfaction. Is the drink even touched? Is the cigarette even lit?

And what about the blank expression of her face? Is this one of Kierkegaard's drained selves? Is this the face of the leveling process? Is she tired of "flirtation," tired of "talkativeness"?

Please note, students, that there is a price reduction for this special exhibition if you have valid student ID, and a further reduction on Thursdays (exhibition ends May 23):

Admission A timed-entry ticket, which includes general museum admission, is required. MFAH Members receive complimentary admissions based on their level of membership. For the general public, admission is $20 (adults) and $15 (children, students, senior adults). Admission is free for children 5 and under, but they do need a ticket to enter the exhibition. On Thursday, tickets are available at a lower price ($15 adults; $10 children, students, senior adults) because general admission is free on Thursday, courtesy of the Shell Oil Company Foundation. In addition to their complimentary admissions, MFAH Members may buy additional tickets for $10. These reduced-rate tickets may be purchased only by MFAH Members. All visitors may purchase a premium untimed ticket that allows one admission to the exhibition at the time/day of their choice during museum hours throughout the run of the show. Premium tickets are $12.50 (MFAH Members) and $25 (general public) and are not eligible for child/student/senior discounts.