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Friday, 7 June 2013

Act 3, Scene 4

The narrative began with Act 1, scene 1 on April 10, 2013.
To access all scenes, scroll to blog archive at the bottom of the page.


Fiorentino
Thank you for the compliment. This is one of my favourite works. 

Manet
And have you enjoyed the Biennale?

Fiorentino
Pah! Venice is a beautiful city full of great works of art; but this Biennale is disgraceful hucksterism. Perhaps nothing in this sideshow is for sale per se, but the promotion of so many ridiculous ... uh ... what are they? ... projects? ... carnival fun houses? Personally I cannot hazard a guess. And although even in my day Venice had earned it's reputation as a centre of bawdy entertainment and pleasures of the flesh, the things I have seen here are so extremely distasteful! Hmmmph, Biennale. More like Bacchanale! This is all beyond stupidity, it is insanity.

Manet (now stopped in his tracks, mouth agape)
I am shocked, Rosso. Based on what I know of your work, I thought of you as so forward thinking in the wake of such a titan as Michelangelo, well I suppose I simply assumed ...

Fiorentino
Ah, Michelangelo. Now there was a true artist. And yes, I like to think that I pushed the boundaries of my time; but I am a painter, and paintings should be both beautiful and moving, no? What is this thing, installation? It's ridiculous to think of walking inside a work of art – which these certainly are not.

Manet
But one walks inside great architecture, one enjoys the experience of being enveloped in an artist's vision.

Fiorentino
This is not architecture. These are playthings, party favours, circus acts. They have no place in the city of Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto. Pardon me, but I am angry about all of this. You are not?

Manet
No, of course not. In some ways, and with all humility, I see these young artists as my artistic progeny.

Fiorentino (incredulous now himself)
And you would admit to this travesty as having some connection to you?

Manet (animated, raising his own voice)
Well, yes! Some have referred to my work as having had a seminal influence on the evolution of great art in the modern era. I am considered to be a founding father of Modernism, something of which I am extremely proud – especially considering the resistance we faced in the early days, the Impressionist painters and I. The reactionaries and dunderheads held sway then too, for a while.

Fiorentino (with a hint of sarcasm)
Yes, I have seen images of the paintings you think of as great leaps forward. I stopped in a bookstore and leafed quickly through some of these glossy publications. Again, mostly full of rot. Your little landscapes are charming in a rather pedestrian way. The palette is appealing up to a point - those huge paintings of water lilies, for example. But I fail to see the point of water lilies as a subject for art. And that other fellow, Monet is it? What disgusting pornography that man produced, with the oddest flatness and incorrect perspective. Complete garbage.

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1915-1926

Manet (now completely enraged, feet planted apart, fists clenched)
Sir! I see that we have both been mistaken. I considered you to be a visionary. I should have realized after seeing the restored Sistine ceiling that you had nothing new to say with colour. Michelangelo's colours put you to shame, as does your own ignorance. It is I who am the purveyor of pornography, as you so eloquently put it. Monet, Claude Monet is another great painter you insult. Could you not even have ascertained correctly who I was before we met this morning? This is outrageous. Were it not for the stifling rules and regulations of the present, I would punish you for this insult on a field of honour, with pistols! You, sir, are a Neanderthal. You should crawl back to your cave. (stomps off in fury)

Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass, 1863
Fiorentino
What in god's name was all that about?

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