Mirror Mirror on The Wall: Reflections on the 19th Century-Paris Through Manet’s “Bar at The Folies-Bergère”


  • Ayşe Nur Şenel Fidangenç


19th Century-Paris, Modernity, Flâneur, Manet, “Bar at the Folies- Bergère”



19th century-Paris is the scene of a vast urban change both physically and socio-culturally. The massive Haussmann plan rapidly transforms the city scape which is to design a network of boulevards combines many different activities such as arcades, public gardens, operas, cafes and bars. In this system, people who stroll by the boulevard look around, visit cafés and shops keep avenues alive. This is so new for that epoch and changed the citizens’ attitude and leads the birth of the flâneur who leisurely strolls around for amusement. The flâneurs occupy the boulevards while they are viewing the scenes, viewing the crowd and also being viewed by the people. So, Paris becomes a scene of this mesmerizing spectacle. Beside these new buildings and glittering boulevards the ones can also see the demolished structures yet the city is still underconstruction. The old quarters vanish rapidly but the poor, fallen, regretted people live in there become visible on the new streets. So the “modern” Parisians confront the “other” side of the city. In that point, however Paris is regarded as a fairy tale city with all these modern aspects, it actually is the space of confrontation and distinction. There are several intellectuals observe this situation and represent the physical and social stratification in their works; such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Balzac, Renoir and Manet. This study basically focuses on Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and his painting called “Bar at the Folies-Bergère” to read the socio-cultural and socio-spatial condition of the 19th century-Paris. And in this reading the mirror on the wall which dominates the painting stands as a reference to decipher Manet’s critique of the society. In order to conduct the study thinkers such as Walter Benjamin and Marshall Berman will be references to read the dilemmas of internalizing modernity in the 19th century; art historians T.J. Clark and Jonathan Crary will broaden the view to understand the change of the object of the gaze in that epoch and to reflect on the questions who is the viewer, what is to be viewed and how it is represented; and the philosopher Michael Foucault who reads Manet’s work as a field of discourse will expand the critique of society beyond the canvas.


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How to Cite

Şenel Fidangenç, A. N. . (2020). Mirror Mirror on The Wall: Reflections on the 19th Century-Paris Through Manet’s “Bar at The Folies-Bergère”. ICONARCH International Congress of Architecture and Planning, (Iconarch -IV Proceeding Book), 201–210. Retrieved from https://iconarch.ktun.edu.tr/index.php/iconarch/article/view/246



SESSION 2A Theme: Architectural/Urban Design, Art and Aesthetics