Eric Sutphin on Manet

Edouard Manet, Boating, 1874, oil on canvas, 38 1/4 x 51 1/4 inches (Metropolita
Edouard Manet, Boating, 1874, oil on canvas, 38 1/4 x 51 1/4 inches (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

As the first post in Noah Dillon's new "Tell Me" series, where artists discuss single work of art in person, Eric Sutphin considers Manet's Boating (1874) (and Bouguereau) at the Met.

Sutphin comments: "This painting feels rather stripped in a way, and I think our identification with some kind of subject, a human subject, is an important aspect of this painting. And it brings me into that by way of all of the vision games Manet’s playing... When you spend a lot of time thinking about how contemporary vision is shifting as a result of the ubiquity of screens, lenses, cameras, all these things, it can feel a little scary, vertiginous. It’s a consolation to know that these guys were also at that same precipice. A significant difference between Bouguereau and Manet is the matter of vision and seeing. The two artists are representative of two types of seeing and a shift in the way that people perceive images. It’s not incidental: space like this becomes physiological, and by closing in on this scene Manet was both internalizing and depicting a new paradigm in perception."