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Baudelaire "A Painter of Modern Life"

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on 12 June 2014

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Transcript of Baudelaire "A Painter of Modern Life"

Born on April 9th, 1821 in Paris, France.
Died August 31, 1867
French Poet
His poetry is influenced by the French romantic poets of the earlier 19th century
The Painter of Modern Life

Came up with the term "modernity" and was searching for it in works of present day artists.
Charles Baudelaire
Section IV Summary
The artist Monsieur C.G. is searching for 'modernity' which he later describes as "The ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable."
Baudelaire makes the point that artists have been creating works that are based on the ideas of the middle ages
For example: Fashion
He thinks that artists who base their work solely on the past are lazy because they are going off what they know rather than really experiencing the beauty in something.
He thinks that artists should portray their own time period and own experiences.
Why do you think Monsieur G. chose to keep his identity confidential?
Do you think that artists should be considered "lazy" if they illustrate ideas of the past?
Section III Summary
By: Dana Barocas & Taylor Bacon
Baudelaire "The Painter of Modern Life"
"The Artist, Man of the World, Man of the Crowd, and Child"
Summary Continued
Baudelaire explains that Monsieur G. because painting at the age of 42 and at first he was terrible, but today he has discovered all the tricks and skills to painting.
he taught himself everything about painting without any help
he retained only what he needed to add an unexpected spice to his special gift
if he finds himself painting something generic or using an old technique he immediately throws it away or burns it in shame
Baudelaire mentions he has been wanting to meet the artist for over ten years now
Baudelaire recalls that for a long time Monsieur G. worked for an English illustrated paper
he sketched illustrations of his travels
the same paper also published a large quantity of compositions by Monsieur G. from the new ballets and operas
Summary Continued
He then states that customs are changing very quickly and we need to embrace it, not ignore it.
If artists did not embrace new fashions and customs, they are guilty of a mistranslation.
He talks about how it was an excellent thing to study the old masters in order to learn how to paint but it is more important to understand the special nature of present day beauty.
He then talks about fabrics of different time periods and how much they have changed.
Every age has its own manners and gestures and even some facial structures were more dominant in some periods.
Summary Continued
"The perpetual correlation between what is called the 'soul' and what is called the 'body' explains quite clearly how everything that is 'material, or in other words an emanation of the 'spiritual', mirrors and will always mirror, the spiritual reality from which it derives."
Basically saying that we base new ideas and customs off of past ideas and customs.
An artist can no portray real life situations and expressions if he draws scenes from the past simply because he was not there to actually witness it.
"Woe to him who studies the antique for anything else but pure art, logic, d general method! By steeping himself too thoroughly in it, he will lose all memory of the present."
If you focus too much on the past, you will completely miss the beauty of the present.
Baudelaire thinks that you should paint what you know and what you experience.
He concludes this by telling us that Monsieur observed life and then he expressed it through his paintings and saw the best in the modern world.
Summary Continued
This made Baudelaire realize that Monsieur G. is not just an artist, but a man of the world
"a man who understands the world and the mysterious and legitimate reasons behind all of it's customs"
Monsieur G. does not like being called an artist
Baudelaire says he is justified because most artists are just skilled brutes that don't need to big picture and can stick with a narrow mindset and focus on their art
Baudelaire explains that in order to understand Monsieur G. you must note that curiosity may be considered the starting point of his genius
The Man of the Crowd-lost in thought forgetting everything then having a desire to remember everything
Man child-drunk on curiosity and eager to learn everything
Last, Baudelaire refers to Monsieur G. as the man of the crow because that is where Monsieur G. belongs.
"just as the air is the birds, and water that of the fish"
can be unseen
Baudelaire beings by saying he wants to tell he readers about a strange man
The strange man:
his originality is so clear cut & powerful that he does not seek anyone's approval
he does not sign his name because that is unoriginal and boring
instead his works are signed with his "dazzling" soul. Meaning they are so unique that they do not need a signature to be recognized
Baudelaire then explains that he must keep the name of the artist anonymous.
refers to the artist as Monsieur G
"we shall concern ourselves with his drawing and watercolors as though we were scholars who had to pronounce upon precious historical documents"
Full transcript