Friday, July 2, 2010

Tour de Force

Today I paired up with Margaret Farr, an AIC senior lecturer, for my first adult tour! Together we tackled Manet's Modernism, a topic which - quite frankly - I found a bit scary. Manet is the man, as far as art historians are concerned, and I wasn't sure I was quite ready to explain why to a large group of over-eager knowledge-seekers. (As Margaret has since divulged, the noontime crowd tends to be of the more informed type, and as such are ready and willing to share their own thoughts and opinions on any given subject. This can make for lively discussion, but also means that the pressure is on!)

Now, I am normally a "go first and get it over with" type of person, but the Manet piece I was presenting made the most sense in the middle of our tour. Margaret kicked us off with Jesus Mocked by the Soldiers followed up by Beggar with Oysters (Philosopher). I fully expected to feel completely nauseous during this portion of the tour, as I *eagerly* awaited my turn. However, I found myself so engaged by Margaret's discussion that all nervousness fell to the wayside.... until it was my time to talk, that is.

I began my portion of the tour by introducing an academic painting: Jean Leon Gerome's Chariot Race from 1876. This painting was made 10 years after my main piece - Manet's Races at Longchamp - but it clearly demonstrates Manet's break with the academy (which then made Longchamp way easier to talk about!). Using this piece as a contrast was Margaret's idea, and a brilliant one at that!

Jean Leon Gerome, Chariot Race, 1876

Edouard Manet, The Races at Longchamp, 1866

As soon as I began talking and asking questions, my nerves calmed once again, and I was off to the races! (I know, I know, I'm an awful punner; I just can't help myself!) Seriously, though, it felt like second nature. I supplied interesting info, gathered ideas from the group, and fielded all sorts of questions - only one of which I couldn't answer! (Turns out, the tall bar with a circle on it is the finish line. Thanks, Margaret!) Best yet, after my tour one of the more ornery regulars congratulated me on a job well done and told me my projection was so good he could "hear me all the way in New Jersey." Well, sir, I will take that as a compliment! Faaantastic!

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