By Michael Fried
With this extensively acclaimed paintings, Fried revised the best way eighteenth-century French portray and feedback have been seen and understood."A reinterpretation supported by means of monstrous studying and through a chain of brilliantly perceptive readings of work and feedback alike. . . . an exciting book."—John Barrell, London evaluation of Books
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Additional resources for Absorption and theatricality: painting and beholder in the age of Diderot
Le Peintre qui fait un tableau du sacrifice d'Iphigenie, ne nous represente sur la toile qu'un instant de l'action. La Tragedie de Racine met so us nos yeux plusieurs instans de cette action, & ces differens incidens se rendent reciproquement les uns les aut res plus pathetiques. 22 A tragedy contains an infinite number oftabieaux. The painter who makes a painting of the sacrifice of Iphigenia represents for us on the canvas only one moment of the action. Racine's tragedy puts before our eyes several moments of this action, and these various incidents enhance one another's pathos.
Ca. 1763-1764, etched by Watelet. Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, The Soap Bubble. ca. 1733. , National Gallery of Art, Gift of Mrs. John W. Simpson. helpfully on Chardin's characteristic choice of "a natural pause in the action which, we feel, will recommence a moment later"97 -they come close to translating literal duration, the actual passage of time as one stands before the canvas, into a purely pictorial effect: as if the very stability and unchangingness of the painted image are perceived by the beholder not as material properties that could not be otherwise but as manifestations of an absorptive statethe image's absorption in itself, so to speak-that only happens to subsist.
And hermetic, in that the structure that results is self-sufficient, a closed system which in effect seals off the space or world of the painting from that of the beholder. 127 Or perhaps it is the antique and in that sense manifestly esthetic tenor of the painting as a whole-the fact that we are encouraged from the first to view it as a piece of deliberate artifice-that gives that closed and self-sufficient structure its hermetic character. It is therefore not surprising that the success of Vien's painting when it was exhibited in the Salon of 1763 appears to have owed much to an appreciation of its refined handling of absorptive effects.
Absorption and theatricality: painting and beholder in the age of Diderot by Michael Fried