In the polka dot cravat
Edouard Manet after a photo by Nadar
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015I was lucky to grow up in a household that
venerated books. I remember my father
gave me a book on Inuit art when I was
10 or so.
In high school my harried art teacher did
her best to educate a bunch of preoccupied
teenagers about the great art of the ages through
art history lessons -- sticking huge coffee table
books in a projector that regularly got so hot it
burned her fingers.
But nothing gives the feeling of knowing
the artists we admire like a novel. When I
was growing up the idea of the art/work
divide was huge. It didn't matter what
Edouard Manet's personal life was like,
just the final product.
True, but how fascinating as an artist and
fan to read about his life,
Degas and Mary Cassatt's -- to feel that
I am right there with them in the studio.
I am delighted with the book I Always
Loved You by Robin Oliviera. It's really
about Mary Cassatt and Degas, but
visually I am still working on Manet.
Here is another small portrait of Manet. I
will add him to my paintings of some of
the heroes in my life. It's based on a photo
by Nadar, and I may work on it a bit more.
I loved the idea of Manet dressing for this portrait,
picturing him deciding to wear the red polka dot
cravat, even if in reality his butler dressed him.
Still I can imagine the silk of that beautiful
neck decoration -- and it makes me feel connected
to the wearer. That's how portrait painters work --
partly on vision, and partly on imagination.
Have a seeing-your-heroes-as-human day.