Soucek Nizami on Painters and Painting

Anonymous
timer Asked: Feb 26th, 2019
account_balance_wallet $15

Question Description

Soucek-Nizami on Painters and Painting (p.9-19)

“Las Meninas” in Michael Foucault’s The Order of Things An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (p.91-105)

Just ask a collage level question after those reading, the image I attached is an example of the way to ask question. Thanks a lot.

Soucek Nizami on Painters and Painting
11.png
polligrail ,1 CAMBRIDGE NE\V ART HISTORY AND CRITICISM General Editor: Norman Bryson Essays , in New Art History from France Uniuersity of Rochester Advisory Board: Eilited by Stephen B.ann, Uniuersity of Kent Joseph Rykwert, Cambridge Uiiuersity l{enli Zernet, Haruard Uniuersity NORMAN BRYSON 'Y-"/ wf trwf ensl/s{r \ w_-ffi l^f#,fu l'Jr'li!'rff I w!-kdrt wfi;ffi l{#;ir;ill \frz' | 'i*,Bu fi- '''e. ti sl L- {\ CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS Cambridge r,.{ \* w C-8r New York New Rochelle Melboume Sydney LOUIS MARIN 28 29 3o 3r JJ 34 CHAPTER 6 See note r9, above, as well as G. Bellori, Le Vite dei pittoi, scultori et architetti modemi (Ror::'e, 167z), pp. 447ff; and F6libien, Entrctiens, N$',rz p- 7r. Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Atts, p. 306. Benveniste, Probldmes, p. r5r ff. Cf. E. Galletier, Etude sur la poisie fun&aire rcmaine (Pris, rgzz); and John Sparrow, Visible Words (Cambridge, England 1969). See Bellori, Le Vite dei pittoi, pp. 447ff, znd Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts, p. 3oJ, n. zg. See A. Blunt, Paintings oJNicolas Poussin p. 8r, no. rz3, for Titne Sauing TruthJrom Enuy and Discord, original lost; in the Palazzo Rospigliosi until about r8oo. N. Poussin, Correspondance, ed. Jouanny & de Nobele, Archives de la Soci6t6 de l'Art frangais (Paris, 1968), p. 463. P. Fr6art de Chantelou, 'Voyage du cavalier Bernin en France,'in Actes du colloque international Poussin (Paris, tg6o), z:r27. LAS MEN/NAS ?7;N Michel Foucault nr painter is standing a little back from his canvas (Illus. io). He is glancing at his model; perhaps he is considering whether to add some finishing touch, though it is also possible that the first stroke has not yet been made. The arm holding the brush is bent to the left, towards the palette; it is motionless, for an instant, between canvas and paints. The skilled hand is suspended in mid-air, arrested in rapt attention on the painter's gaze; and the gaze, in return, waits upon the arrested gesture. Between the fine point of the brush and the steely gaze, the scene is about to yield up its volume. But not without a subtle system of feints. By standing back a little, the painter has placed himself to one side of the nointino n- .",hirh at present observing h^ i".rrn"Li-c 'fhrt i. f^- th- cha^f.t^r him he is to the right ofhis canvas, while the latter, the canvas, takes up the whole of the extreme left. And the canvas has its back iurned to that sDecrator: he can see nothing of it but the reverse side, together with the huge it is stretched. The painter, on the other hand, is perfectly visible in his full height; or at any rate, he is not masked by the tall canvas that may soon absorb him, when, taking a step towards it again, he returns to his task; he has no doubtjust appeared, at this very instant, before the eyes of the spectator, emerging from what is virtually a sort ofvast cage projected backwards by the surface he is painting. Now he can he seen cerrqht in r momenf of stillness er the ----o--neutral centre of this oscillation. His dark torso and bright face are half-way between the visible and the invisible: emerging from that canvas beyond our view, he moves into our gaze; but when, in a moment, he makes a step to the right, removing himself {iom out g4ze, he will be standing exactly in front of the canvas he is painting; he will enter that region where his painting, neglected for an instant, will, for him, frame on which 9o 9r VTICHEL FOUCAULT become visible once more, free of shadow and free of retic€oce = as though the painter could not at the same time be seen on the picture where he is represented and also see that upon which he is representing something. He rules at the threshold of those two incompatible visibilities. The painter is looking, his face turned slightly and his head leaning towards one shoulder. He is staring at a point to which, even though it is invisible, we, the spectators, can easily assign an object, since it is we, ourselves, who are that point: our bodies, our faces, our eyes. The spectacle he is observing is thus doubly invisible: first, because it is not represented within the space of the painting, and, second, because it is situated precisely in that blind point, in that essential hiding-place into which our gaze disappears from ourselves at the moment of our actual looking. And yet, how could we fail to see that invisibility, there in front of our eyes, since it has its own perceptible equivalent, its sealed-in figure, in the painting itself? We could, in effect, guess what to Yelizqrez, Las Menifias it is the painter is looking at if it were possible for us to glance LAs for a moment at the canvas he is working on; but all we can see of that canvas is its texture, the horizontal and vertical bars ofthe stretcher, and the obliquely rising foot ofthe easel. The tall, monotonous rectangle occupying the whole left portion ofthe real picture, and representing the back ofthe canvas within the picture, reconstitutes in the form of a surface the MENITiAS invisibility in depth of what the artist is observing: that space in which we are, and which we are. From the eyes of the painter to what he is observing there runs a compelling line that we, the onlookers, have no power of evading: it runs through the real picture and emerges from its surface to join the place from which we see the painter observing us; this dotted line reaches out to us ineluctably, and links us to the representation of the picture. In appearance, this locus is a simple one; a matter of pure reciprocity: we are looking at a picture in which the painter is in turn looking out at us. A mere confrontation, eyes catching one another's glance, direct looks superimposing themselves upon one another as they cross. And yet this slender line of reciprocal visibility embraces a whole complex network of uncertainties, exchanges, and feints. The painter is turning his eyes towaids us only in so far as we happen to occupy the same position as his subject. We, the spectators, are an additional factor. Though greeted by that gaze, we are elsn .licmissed hw it renleced hv thet rvhich was alwavs there i""."Ju, ir,. *i",.,', h ;;i";;;;;il.to ffi;i;"Ji.lE'"i, ;"ffi;ffi,'* ;ilil,;ti.'.i. ijt: i^+.n'K.i!-"' in this the gaze, addressed ture, accepts as many modeis as there are sPectators; --.\o,t tL. observed op6 golL-'yOpC(\v precise bui neutral pi.ce, th. observer "nd part in a ceaseless exchange. No gaze is stable, or rather, in 6U#J' the neutral furrow ofthe gaze piercing at a right angle through the canvas, subject and object, the spectator and the model, reverse their roles to infinity7And here the great canvas with its back to us on the extrem-t left of the picture exercises its second function: stubbornly invisible, it prevents the relation ofthese gazes from ever being discoverable or definitely established. The opaque fixity that it establishes on one side renders forever unstable the play of metamorphoses established in the centre between spectator and model. Because we can see only that reverse side, we do not know who we afe, or what we are doing. Seen or seeing? The painter is observing a place which, from moment to rnoment, never ceases to change its content, its'form, its face, its identity. But the attentive immobility of his eyes refers us back to 92 93 ,rrcHEL FoucAUrT another direction they have often followed alreadit, and that soon, there can be no doubt, they will take again: that of the motion'less canvas upon which is being traced, has already been traced pprhaps, for a long_time and forever, a portrait , . $k that will never again be erasedlThus the painter's sovereign gaze commands a virtual triangle whose outline defines this ":,,d# picture of a picture: at the top - the only visible corner - the 146A Q'' :/ f'1 "--,.r\ "{^ " painter's eyes; at one of the base angles, the invisible place o.."pied by the model; at the otheibase angle, the figure ,'r(l*Sle\ probably sketched out on the invisible surface of the canvasJ ,t 5t -* r,",r? 'i,e.f, *e 1As soon as they place the spectator in the field of their ' 1\t',l?}P" %;, the painter's eyes seize hoid of hlm, force him to enter S ih. pi.t.r.., arsign him a place at once privileged and inescapable, levy their luminous and visible tribute from him, and proiect it upon the inaccessible surface of the canvas within tire picturflHe sees his invisibility made visible to the painter and transposed into an image forever invisible to himself. A shock that is augmented and made more inevitable still by a marginal trap. At the extreme right, the picture is lit by a window represented in very sharp perspective; so sharp ttrat we c.an see scarcely more than the embrasure; so that the flood of light streaming through it bathes at the same time, and with equal generosity, two neighbouring spaces, overlapping but irreducible: the surface of the painting, together with the volume it J Jls\Ivt ^^i-+^-to.r"lj^ represents (which ^* +L'^ "^l^- i- ."Li.1" l";..^"-l is to say, the i< nnrrr cci up), and, in front of that surface, the real volume occupied by the spectator (or again, the unreal site of the model). And as it passes through the room from right to left, this vast flood of golden light carries both the spectator towards the painter and the model towards the canvas; it is this light too, that, washing over the painter, makes him visible to the spectator and turns into golden lines, in the model's eyes, the frame of that enigmatic canvas on which his image, once transported there, is to be imprisoned. This extreme, partial, scarcely indicated window frees a whole flow of daylight that serves as the common locus of the representation. It balances tho i--ticihle ..h\zrq on fhe other qide of nictrrre: irrst rs -__- -r_----_ -' J---' -- the -that canvas, by turning its back to the spectators, folds itself in against the picture representing it, and f,orms, by the superimposition of its reverse and visible side upon the surface ofthe pictuie depicting it, the ground, inacdeSsible to us, on ,r.,hich ther-e shimmers the Imase r-_ oar e:-cellence, -_-----__- so does the window, a pure aperture, establish a space as manifest as the other is hidden; as much the common ground of painter, 94 figures, models, and spectators, as the other is solitary (for no one is looking at it, not even the painter). From the right, there streams in through an invisible window the pure volume of a light that renders all representation visible; to the left extends the surface that conceals, on the other side ofits all too visible woven texture, the representation it bears. The light, by flooding the scene (I mean the roorn as well as the canvas: the room represented on the canvas, and the room in which the canvas stands), envelops the figures and the speciators and carries them with it, under the painter's gaze, towards the place where his brush will represent them. But that place is concealed from us. 'We are observing ourselves being observed by the painter, and made visible to his eyes by the same light that enables us to see him. And just as we are about to apprehend ourselves, transcribed by his hand as rAs though in a mirror, we find that we can in fact apprehend nothing of that mirror but its lustreless back. The other side of a psyche. as it happens, exactly opposite the spectators - ouron - the wall forming the far end of the room, Vellzquez has represented a series of pictures; and we see that among all those hanging canvases there is one that shines with particular brightness. Its frame is wider and darker than those of the others; yet there is a fine white line around its inner edge diffusing over its whole surface a light whose souree is not easy to determine; for it comes from nowhere, Now, selves unless it be from a space within itself. In this strange light, two silhouettes are apparentr while above them, and a little behinci them, is a heavy purpie curtain. The oiher piciures reveal little more than a few paler patches buried in a darkness without depth. This particular one, on the other hand, opens onto a perspective of space in which recognizable forms,recede from us in a light that belongs only to itself. Among all these elements intended to provide representations, while impeding them, hiding them, concealing them because of their position or their distance {rom us, this is the only one that fulfils its function in all honesty and enables us to see what it is supposed to show - despite its distance from us, despite the shadows all around it. But it isn't a picture: it is a mirror. It offers us at last that enchantment of the double that until now has been denied us; not oqly by the distant paintings but also by the light in the foreground with its ironic canvas. Of all the representations represented in the picture this is the only one visible; but no one is looking at it. Upright 9J MENrNi,4s MICHEL FOUCAULT beside his canvas, his attention entirely taken up by his model, the painter is unable to see this looking-glass shining so softly behind him. The other figures in the picture are also, for the most part, turned to face what must be taking place in front towards the bright invisibility bordering the canvas, towards that balcony oflight where their eyes can gaze at those who are gazing back at them, and not towards that dark recess that marks the far end of the room in which they are represented. There are, it is true, some heads turned away from us in profile: but not one of them is turned far enough to see, at the back of the room, that solitary mirror, that tiny glowing rectangle that is nothing other than visibility, yet g ze able to grasp it, to render it actual, and to without ^ny enjoy the suddenly ripe fruit ofthe spectacle it offers. It must be admitted that this indifference is equalled only - by the mirror's own. It is reflecting nothing, in fact, of all that is there in the same space as itself; neither the painter with his back to it, nor the figures in the centre of the room. It is not the visible it reflects, in those bright depths. In Dutch painting it was traditional for mirrors to play a duplicating role: they repeated the original contents ofthe picture, only inside an unreal, modified, contracted, concave space. One saw in them the same things as one saw in the first instance in the painting, but decomposed and recomposed according to a different law. Here, the mirror is saying nothing that hrq rlre:<-l': heen seid Yet its oosition .is more or less completely central: its upper edge is exactly on an imaginary line running half-way between the top and the bottom of the painting, it hangs right in the middle of the t-ar waii (or at least in the middle of the portion we can see); it ought, therefore, to be governed by the same lines of perspective as the picture itself; we might well expect the same studio, the sbme painter, the same canvas to be arranged within it according to an identical space; it could be the perfect duplication. In fact,.it shows us nothing of what is represented in the picture itself. Its motionless gaze extends out in front of the picture, into that necessarily invisible region that forms its exterior face, to apprehend the figures arranged in that space. Instead of surrounding visible objects, this mirror cuts straight through the whole field of the representation, ignoring all it might apprehend within that field, and restores visibility to that which resides outside all view. But the inwisihilitv thet it overcomes in this wav is not the invisibilitv of what is hidden: it does not make its way around any obstacle, it is not distorting any perspective, it is addressing 96 itself to what is invisible both because of the picture's structure and because of its existence as painting' What it is reflecting is that which all the figures within the painting are looking at so fixedly, or at least those who are looking straight ahead; it is therefore what the spectator would be able to see if the painting extended further forward, if its bottom edge were brought lower until it included the figures the painter is using as models. But it is also, since the picture does stop ras there, displaying only the painter and his studio, what is exterior to the picture, in so far as it is a picture - in other words, a rectangular fragment of lines and colours intended to represent something to the eyes of any possible spectator. At the far end of the room, ignored by all, the unexpected mirror holds in its glow the figures that the painter is looking at (the painter in his represented, objective reality, the reality of the painter at his work); but also the figures that are looking at the painter (in that material reality which the lines and the colours have laid out upon the canvas). These two groups of {igures are both equally inaccessible, but in different ways: the first because of an effect of composition peculiar to the painting; the second because ofthe law that presides over the very existence of all pictures in general. Here, the action of representation consists in bringing one of these two forms of invisibility into the place ofthe other, in an unstable superirnposition - and in rendering them both, at the same moment, at the other extremity of the picture - at that pole which is the very height of its representation: that of a reflected depth in the far recess of the painting's depth. The mirror provik . , r o-c\L j;/ language inevitably inadequate to the visible ftct, it would be better to say that Yellzquez composed a picture; that in \f"n\ri"rldrfti this picture he represented himseli in his studio or in a room lrn 'i'z \.-,o6\Cl^o "rrJ6*" of the Escorial, in the act of painting two figures whom the Infanta Margarita has come there to watch, together with an -!{ "u \\ entourage of duennas, maids of honour, courtiers, and or.rrl(A \i'/ dwarfs; that we can attribute names to this group of people with great precision: tradition recognizes that here we have Dofla Maria Agustina Sarmiente, over there Nieto, in the foreground Nicolaso Pertusato, an Italian jester. We could then add that the two personages serving as models to the painter are not visible, at least directly; but that we can see them in a mirror; and that they are, without any doubt, King Philip IV and his wife, Marian!] These proper names would form useful landmarks and avoid ambiguous designations; they would tell us in any case what the painter is looking at, and the majority of the characters in the picture along with him. But the relation of language to painting is an infinite relation. It is not that words are imperfect, or that, when confronted by the visible, they MICHE[ FOUCAULT prove insuperably inadequate. Neither can be reduced to the nthcr'c fermc. ii ic in rzein fhet rwe qrw whrt we qee' whet we '-I ""-And it is in vain that we we say. resides in what never see attempt to show, by the use of images, metaphors, or similes, what we are saying; the space where they achreve their spiendour is not that deployed by our eyes but that defined by the sequential elements of syntax. And the proper name, in this particular context, is merely an artifice: it gives us a finger to point with, in other words, to itp[ r "\. r,\ .f -.--)5qMiltfy I '" .k\S\' \n^c9{^Q",-.,er ' .J J.5a V/,tf 'z\ e . Y^ct\' v$" .atV.4,v ,*;('\ ,"ntt ()\' \ )\'7 w&l\;f'')7 :-'1" N,?, n e reflected in the depths of that mirror, and interrogate that reflection in its own terms. First, it is the reverse of the great canvas represented on the left. The reverse, or rather the right side, since it displays in full face what the canvas, by its position, is hiding from us. Furthermore, it is both in opposition to the window and a reinforcement of it. Like the window, it provides a ground common to the painting and to what lies outside it. But the window operates by the continuous movement of an effusion that, flowing fiom right to left, unites the attentive figures, the painter, and the canvas, with the spectacle they are observing; whereas the mirror, on the other hand, by means of a violent, instantaneous movement, a movement of pure surprise, leaps out from the picture in order to reach that which is observed yet invisible in front of it, and then, at the far end of its fictitious depth, to render it visible yet indifferent to every gaze. The compelling tracer line, joining the reflection to that which it is reflecting, cuts perpendicularly through the lateral flood oflight. Lastly - and this is the mirror's third function - it stands adjacent to a doorway that forms an opening, like the mirror itself, in the far wall of the room. This doorway too forms a bright and sharply defined rectangle whose soft light does not shine through into the room. It would be nothing but a gilded panel if it were not recessed out from the room by means of one leaf of a carved door, tho .""'o ^F r .tr*t"i- "-l th. .hol^rrt. nf cerzerel cfenc Beyond the steps, a corridor begins; but instead of losing itself in obscurity, it is dissipated in a yellow dazzle wherc the light, without coming in, whirls around on itself in dynamic repose. Against this background, at once near and limitless, a man stands out in full-length silhouette; he is seen in profile; with one hand he is holding back the weight of a pass surreptitiously from curtain; his feet are placed on different steps; one knee is bent. the space where one speaks to the space where one looks; in other words,.to fold one over the other as though they were the relation of oflanguage language equivalentsput if one wishes to keep the-relation equivalents.lBut to .ririon opFrr, if o.,. wishes to treat their incompatibility as a starting-ioint for speech instead of as an obstacle to be avoided. so as to stay as close as possible to both, then one avoided, infinitv of infinity ot rnust erase those proper DroDer names and preserve the infimty lnust He may be about to enter the room; or he may be merely observing what is going on inside it, content to surprise those within without being seen himself. Like the mirror, his eyes d: :h:T:ln "l*: g,z ryllp',:T::ql 'h', language, always over-meticulous and repetitive anonymousll,l beea-r:se too broad, that the painting may, little by little, release its illuminationsll 'We must therefore pretend not to know who is to be are directed towards the other side ofthe scene; nor is anyone oarring anv more 2ttention to him than to the mirror. We do not know where he has come from: it could be that by following uncertain corridors he has just made his way around the outside of the room in which these characters are collected and the painter is at work; perhaps he too, a short while ago, \.r/as there in the forefront of the scene, in the invisible region still being contemplated by all those eyes in the picture. Like the images perceived in the looking-glass, it is possible that tas vrrrrrNras he too is an emissary from that evident yet hidden space. Even so, there is a difference: he is there in flesh and blood; he has appeared fiom the outside, on the threshold of the MICHEL FOUCAULT area represented; he is indubitable - not a probable reflection but an irruptionJThe mirror, by making visible, beyond even @ th. w"lls of the-studio itself, what is happening in front of the picture, creates, in its sagittal dimension, an oscillation between the interior and the exteriorlOne foot only on the lower step, his body entirely in profile, the ambiguous visitor is coming in and going out at the same time, like a pendulum caught at the bottom of its swing. He repeats on the spot, but in the dark reality of his body, the instantaneous movement of those images flashing across the room, plunging into the mirror, being reflected there, and springing out from it again like visible, new, and identical species. Pale, minuscule, those silhouetted figures in the mirror are challenged by the tall, solid stature of the man appearing in the doorway. But we must move down again from the back of the picture towards the front of the stage; we must leave that periphery whose volute we have just been following. Starting from the painter's gazd, .which constituti:s an off-centre centre to the left, we perceive first of all the back of the canvas, then the paintings hung on the wall, with the mirror in their centre, then the open doorway, then more pictures, of which, because of the sharpness of the perspective, we can see no more than the eciges of the frames, anci finaiiy, at ihe extreme right, the window, or rather the groove in the wall from which the light is pourinq. This spiral shell presents us with the entire cycle of representation; the gaze, the palette and brush, the canvas innocent of signs (these are the material tools of representation), the paintings, the reflections, the real man (the completed representation, but as it were freed from its illusory or truthful contents, which arejuxtaposed to it); then the representation dissolves again: we can see only the frames, and the light that is flooding the pictures from outside, but that they, in return, must reconstitute in their own kind, as though it were coming from elsewhere, passing through their r-.,r wuuucll A,-I ---^ )^ :c^^- scc l:-L- urt -.---l-,- c,------^^^ -Li^ ^wc uu, lrl ldLr, Llus rrBrrr trarrlcs. nnu clarK the painting, apparently welling out from the crack of the frame; and from there it moves over to touch the brow, the cheekbones, the eyes, dne gaze of the painter, who is holding a palette in one hand and in the other a fine brush - and so ,. -1 i-1 ^,- ,---l---^r -L--r--^l uy rrrcalrs --^^-uL tlrat l:^Lllglrr, :^rs ls Lrusc(r, ur tatllcl , L-ule spLrar j. . opened. This opening is not, like the one in the back wall, made door; it is the whole breadth of the picture Las i,l.h ."J the looks that pass across it are not those of a distant visitor. The frieze that occupies the foreground and the middle ground of the picture represents - if we include the painter - eight characrers. Five of these, their heads more o, l"rs bent, turned or inclined, are looking straight out at rieht angles to the surface of the picture. The centre of the er;rp ir o..npied by the little Infanta, with her flared pink ind gr"y dress. The princess is turning her head towards the righiside of the picture, while her torso and the big panniers oiher dress slant away slightly towards the left; but her gaze is directed absolutely straight towards the spectator standing ,\ in front of the painting. fivertical line dividing the canvasffi into two equal halves.would pass between the child's eyes' Her face is a third of the total height of the picture above the lower frame. So that here, beyond all question, resides the \-/ orincipal theme of the composition; this is the very object of it emphasize and to itrlr p"iltti.tg. As though to prove this .,r.n *ot", Yel6zquez has made use of a traditional visual device: beside the principal figure he has placed a secondary one, kneeling and looking in towards the central one' Like a donor in prayer, like an angel greeting the Virgin, a maid of honour on her knees is stretching out her hands towards the pri.rcesfl,Fler face stands out in perfect profile against the tackground. It is at the same height as that of the child. This at thc nrinces"- -",rd onlv at the orincess. rvv[rrr5 ^*+^*']^-t rri. l^^Li-o drrurru4rrl ---- J --of honour, maid another t'here stands A little to the right, bv oullinq back a MENTNAS ..iaon. ^CD .onnY^" 'f\f also turned towards the Infanta, leaning slightly over her, but with her eyes clearly directed towarcis the front, towarcis the same spot already being gazed at by the painter and the princess. Lastly, two other groups made up of two figures iach: otte of these groups is further away; the other, made up of the two dwarfs, is right in the foreground- One charrit.. in each ofthese pairs is looking straight out, the other to the left or the right. Because of their positions and their size, these two groups corresppnd and themselves form a pair: behind, the courtiers (the woman, to the left, looks to (the bov. who is at the extreme the -"- rioht\' "o"-t, in front- the dwarfs of the picture). This group the centre towards right, looks in carl be taken to conmanner, of characters- arransed in this -__-'^D-stitute, according.to the way one looks at the picture and the centre of reference chosen, two different figures' The {irst would he a larse X: the too left-hand point of this X would be the painter's eyes; the top right-hand one, the male courtier's eves: at the bottom left-hand corner there is the corner IOI U-/ MTcHEL FoucAULT of the canvas represented with its back towards us (or, more exactly, the foot ofthe easel); at the bottom right-hand corner, the dwarf (his foot on the dog's back). Where these two lines intersect, at the centre of the X, are the eyes of the Infanta. The second figure would be more that of a vast curve, its two ends determined by the painter on the left and the male courtier on the right - both these extremities occurring high up in the picture and set back from its surface; the centre of the curve. much nearer to us, would coincide with the princess's face and the look her maid of honour is directing towards her. This curve describes a shallow hollow across the centre ofthe picture that at once contains and sets offthe position of the mirror at the back. There are thus two centres around which the picture may be organized, according to whether the fluttering attention of the spectator decides to settle in this place or in that. The princess is standing upright in the centre of a St Andrew's cross, which is revolving around her with its eddies of courtiers, maids of honour, animals, and fools. But this pivoting movement is frozen. Frozen by a spectacle that would be absolutely invisible if those sarhe characters, suddenly motionless, were not offering us, as though in the hollow of a goblet, the possibility of seeing in the depths of a mirror the unforeseen double of what they are observing. In depth, it is the princess who is superimposed on the mirror; vertically, :.:^ rL rJ +L^ Ltlg -^d^^+:^ttrlELttull because ofthe rL^. Tr,,r ^- +L^ LrrL f^^faLL. uuL, Lttdt i^ rs ^,,-^-:*-^^^l )uPgr rrrrPUJLu vrl perspective, they are very close to one another. Moreover, from each of them there springs an ineluctable line: the line issuing from the mirror crosses the whole of the depth represented (and even more, since the mirror forms a hole in the back wall and brings a further space into being behind it). The other line is shorter: it comes from the child's 'eyes and crosses only the foreground. These two sagittal lines converge at a very sharp angle, and the point where they meet, springing out from the painted surface, occurs in front of the picture, more or less exactly at the spot from which we are observing it. It is an uncertain point because we cannot oaa it. rrar ir'i. since it ^- i-^"it^l-'l^.-'l A^€'^^A h^;ht --.fo-tl" l/v[r! r^^ lvvt is determined by those two dominating figures and confirmed further by other, adjacent dotted lines that also have their origin inside the picture and emerge from it in a similar fashion. \Y/L.^r'i. r1"^*^ tl'o- ."^ l^cr 4! r4r!t ^"L ar completely inaccessible because i; that nlara tLat ic it is exterior to the picture, raS lzrwrr{ras yet is prescribed by all the lines of its composition? What is the spectacle, what are the faces that are reflected first of all in the depths ofthe Infanta's eyes, then in the courtiers' and the painter's, and finally in the distant glow of the mirror? But the question immediately becomes a double one: the face reflected in the mirror is also the face that is contemplating it; what all the figures in the picture are looking at are the two figures to whose eyes they too present a scene to be observed. The entire picture is looking out at a scene for which it is itself a scene. A condition of pure reciprocity manifested by the observing and observed mirior, the two stages of which are uncoupled at the two lower corners of the picture: on the left the canvas with its back to us, by means of which the exterior point is made into pure spectacle; to the right the dog lying on the floor, the only element in the picture that is neither looking at anything nor moving, because it is not intended, with its deep reliefs and the light playing on its silky hair, to be anything but an object to be seen. @u, fi.st glance at the painting told us what it is that creates this spectacle-as-observation. It is the two sovereigns. One can sense their presence already in the respectful gaze of the figures in the picture, in the astonishment of the child and the dwarf. We recognize them, at the far end of the picture, in the two tiny silhouettes gleaming out from the lookingof all those attentive faces, all those richly elass. In ---- midst --- the D_---dressed bodies, they are the palest, the most unreal, the most compromised of all the painting's images: a movement, iittie iight, wouici be sufficient to eciipse them. Of aii a these *' ^ (xj" LXr" -k.oo K,r P ,1\,?9" figures represented before us, they are also the most ignored, since no one is paying the slightest attention to that reflection which has slipped into the, room behind them all, silently occupying its unsuspected space; in so far as they are visible, they are the frailest and the most distant form of all reality. Inversely, in so far as they stand outside the picture and are therefore withdrawn from it in.an essential invisibility, they provide the centre around which the entire representation is ordered: it is thev who are being faced, it is towards them that everyon. l, tort .@ it is to tf,eir eyes that the princess is being presented in her holiday clothes; from the canvas with its back to us to the Infanta, and from the Infanta to the dwarf playing on the extreme right, there runs a curve (or again, the lower fork of the X opens) that orders the whole arrangement of the picture to their gaze aind thus makes ap- ro3 ^ r{rg VIICHEL FOUCAULT parent the true centre of the composition, to'which the Infanta's gaze and the image in the mirror are both finally subj ect. In the realm of the anecdote, this centre is symbolically sovereign, since it is occupied by King Philip IV and his wife. But it is so above all because of the triple function it fulfils in relation to the picture. For in it there occurs an exact superimposition of the model's gaze as it is being painted, of the spectator's as he contemplates the painting, and of the painter's as he is composing his picture (not the one represented, but the one in front of us which we are discussing). These three 'observing' functions come together in a point exterior to the picture: that is, an ideal point in relation to what is represented, but a perfe-ctly real one too, since it is also the starting-point that makes the representation possible. With that reality itself it cannot not be invisible. And yet, that reality is projected within the picture - projected and diffracted in three forms that correspond to the three functions of that ideal and real point. They are: on the left, the painter with his palette in his hand (a self-portrait of YeIlzquez); to the right, the visitor; one foot on the step, ready to enter the room; he is taking in the scene from the back, but he can see the royal couple, who are the spectacle itself, from the front; and lastly, in the centre, the reflection ofthe king and the queen, richly dressed, motionless, in the attitude and portraits. Around the scene are arranged all the signs and successive forms of representation; but the double relation of the representation to its model and to its sovereign, to its author as well as to the person to whom it is being offered, this relation is necessarily interrupted. It can never be present without some residuum, even in a representation that offers ^^ d ^ JPUUL4lru. ^--^+^^l^ 4> Tur +Lur! ,-]-^+L. ulyru flrat rravaraFc fhe nirtrrrc A reflection that shows us quite simply, and in shadow, what all those in the foreground are looking at. It restores, as if by magic, what is lacking in every gaze: in the painter's, hollowing it into a fictitious recess and projecting it forward in front of itself, it is not possible for the pure felicity of the image ever to present in a full light both the master who is the model, which his represented double is duplicating over there in the picture; in the king's, his portrait, which is being finished offon that slope ofthe canvas that he cannot perceive from where he stands; in that of the spectator, the real centre of the scene, whose place he himself has taken as though by usurpation. But perhaps this generosity on the part of the mirror is feigned; perhaps it is hiding as much as and even more than it reveals. That space where the king and his wife representing and the sovereign who is being represented. fFerhaps ihere exists, in this painting by Vel6zquez, the rEFresentation as it were of'Classical representation, and the definition of the space it opens up to us. And, indeed, reprepresentation undertakes to represent itself here in all its elements, with its images, the eyes to which it is offered the faces it makes visible, the gestures that call it into being. But there, in the midst of this dispersion that it is simultaneously r^-athFr,-rl ..".".{ino nrrt hefore rrs indicated ^-^,,-i-compellingly from every side, is an essential void: the nec- L^'ll Jwdy -,-,^,. uvru L^l^--^ ugtu[Bs --^^ ^^..^ll-.,-,^llwglt r^ ^*ri^+ drru ^-l +^ rlrL drtlJt LUL JPLVt9u4uy Lv *L^ tu +L^ tator: in the depths of the mirror there could also appear there ought to appear - the anonymous face ofthe passer-by and that of YelSzquez. For the function of that reflection is to draw into the interior of the picture what is intimately f^--:-rvrlrBrr t^ 1.. tL^ LU rt. tllg !L^! -^-^ Lttdl YdLE L^^ ltds ^-^^-:-^l urSdrrrztu :+ ^-l rL drlu +L(rru ^^-^ 64Lu {)-LvL which it is displayed. But because they are present within the picture, to the right and to the left, the artist and the visitor LAS MENINdS tation came into being, reached completion, only to dissolve once more into the light; the cycle was complete. The lines that run through the depth ofthe picture, on the other hand, are not complete; they all lack a segment of their trajectories. This gap is caused by the absence of the king - an absence that is an artifice on the part of the painter. But this attifice both conceals and indicates another vacancy that is, on the contrary, immediate: that of the painter and the spectator when they are looking at or composing the picture. It may be that, in this picture, as in all the representations of which it is, as it were, the manifest essence, the profound invisibility of what one sees is inseparable from the invisibility of the person seeing - despite all mirrors, reflections, imitations, :.^^1C Il)gll of patient modeis. r04 cannot be given a place in the mirror; just as the king appears in the depths ofthe looking-glass precisely because he does not belong to the Picture. In the great volute that runs around the perimeter of the studio, from the gaze of ,the painter, with his motionless hand and palette, right round to the finished paintings, represen- l:-^-^ ^^^^*-. urrdyP gssdry ^fd"^+ -',hi-h i" itc fn'rnrlctin- s dL(' - nfthe person it resembles and the person in whose eyes it is only a resemblance. This very subject - which is the same - has hcen elirled r:us And rvy^vvvr tenresentation- freed finallv from the re^^--* ^_^_*__J Iation that was impeding it, can offer itself as representation in its oure form. \ ,-/ ro5 ..4
polligrail ,1 CAMBRIDGE NE\V ART HISTORY AND CRITICISM General Editor: Norman Bryson Essays , in New Art History from France Uniuersity of Rochester Advisory Board: Eilited by Stephen B.ann, Uniuersity of Kent Joseph Rykwert, Cambridge Uiiuersity l{enli Zernet, Haruard Uniuersity NORMAN BRYSON 'Y-"/ wf trwf ensl/s{r \ w_-ffi l^f#,fu l'Jr'li!'rff I w!-kdrt wfi;ffi l{#;ir;ill \frz' | 'i*,Bu fi- '''e. ti sl L- {\ CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS Cambridge r,.{ \* w C-8r New York New Rochelle Melboume Sydney LOUIS MARIN 28 29 3o 3r JJ 34 CHAPTER 6 See note r9, above, as well as G. Bellori, Le Vite dei pittoi, scultori et architetti modemi (Ror::'e, 167z), pp. 447ff; and F6libien, Entrctiens, N$',rz p- 7r. Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Atts, p. 306. Benveniste, Probldmes, p. r5r ff. Cf. E. Galletier, Etude sur la poisie fun&aire rcmaine (Pris, rgzz); and John Sparrow, Visible Words (Cambridge, England 1969). See Bellori, Le Vite dei pittoi, pp. 447ff, znd Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts, p. 3oJ, n. zg. See A. Blunt, Paintings oJNicolas Poussin p. 8r, no. rz3, for Titne Sauing TruthJrom Enuy and Discord, original lost; in the Palazzo Rospigliosi until about r8oo. N. Poussin, Correspondance, ed. Jouanny & de Nobele, Archives de la Soci6t6 de l'Art frangais (Paris, 1968), p. 463. P. Fr6art de Chantelou, 'Voyage du cavalier Bernin en France,'in Actes du colloque international Poussin (Paris, tg6o), z:r27. LAS MEN/NAS ?7;N Michel Foucault nr painter is standing a little back from his canvas (Illus. io). He is glancing at his model; perhaps he is considering whether to add some finishing touch, though it is also possible that the first stroke has not yet been made. The arm holding the brush is bent to the left, towards the palette; it is motionless, for an instant, between canvas and paints. The skilled hand is suspended in mid-air, arrested in rapt attention on the painter's gaze; and the gaze, in return, waits upon the arrested gesture. Between the fine point of the brush and the steely gaze, the scene is about to yield up its volume. But not without a subtle system of feints. By standing back a little, the painter has placed himself to one side of the nointino n- .",hirh at present observing h^ i".rrn"Li-c 'fhrt i. f^- th- cha^f.t^r him he is to the right ofhis canvas, while the latter, the canvas, takes up the whole of the extreme left. And the canvas has its back iurned to that sDecrator: he can see nothing of it but the reverse side, together with the huge it is stretched. The painter, on the other hand, is perfectly visible in his full height; or at any rate, he is not masked by the tall canvas that may soon absorb him, when, taking a step towards it again, he returns to his task; he has no doubtjust appeared, at this very instant, before the eyes of the spectator, emerging from what is virtually a sort ofvast cage projected backwards by the surface he is painting. Now he can he seen cerrqht in r momenf of stillness er the ----o--neutral centre of this oscillation. His dark torso and bright face are half-way between the visible and the invisible: emerging from that canvas beyond our view, he moves into our gaze; but when, in a moment, he makes a step to the right, removing himself {iom out g4ze, he will be standing exactly in front of the canvas he is painting; he will enter that region where his painting, neglected for an instant, will, for him, frame on which 9o 9r VTICHEL FOUCAULT become visible once more, free of shadow and free of retic€oce = as though the painter could not at the same time be seen on the picture where he is represented and also see that upon which he is representing something. He rules at the threshold of those two incompatible visibilities. The painter is looking, his face turned slightly and his head leaning towards one shoulder. He is staring at a point to which, even though it is invisible, we, the spectators, can easily assign an object, since it is we, ourselves, who are that point: our bodies, our faces, our eyes. The spectacle he is observing is thus doubly invisible: first, because it is not represented within the space of the painting, and, second, because it is situated precisely in that blind point, in that essential hiding-place into which our gaze disappears from ourselves at the moment of our actual looking. And yet, how could we fail to see that invisibility, there in front of our eyes, since it has its own perceptible equivalent, its sealed-in figure, in the painting itself? We could, in effect, guess what to Yelizqrez, Las Menifias it is the painter is looking at if it were possible for us to glance LAs for a moment at the canvas he is working on; but all we can see of that canvas is its texture, the horizontal and vertical bars ofthe stretcher, and the obliquely rising foot ofthe easel. The tall, monotonous rectangle occupying the whole left portion ofthe real picture, and representing the back ofthe canvas within the picture, reconstitutes in the form of a surface the MENITiAS invisibility in depth of what the artist is observing: that space in which we are, and which we are. From the eyes of the painter to what he is observing there runs a compelling line that we, the onlookers, have no power of evading: it runs through the real picture and emerges from its surface to join the place from which we see the painter observing us; this dotted line reaches out to us ineluctably, and links us to the representation of the picture. In appearance, this locus is a simple one; a matter of pure reciprocity: we are looking at a picture in which the painter is in turn looking out at us. A mere confrontation, eyes catching one another's glance, direct looks superimposing themselves upon one another as they cross. And yet this slender line of reciprocal visibility embraces a whole complex network of uncertainties, exchanges, and feints. The painter is turning his eyes towaids us only in so far as we happen to occupy the same position as his subject. We, the spectators, are an additional factor. Though greeted by that gaze, we are elsn .licmissed hw it renleced hv thet rvhich was alwavs there i""."Ju, ir,. *i",.,', h ;;i";;;;;il.to ffi;i;"Ji.lE'"i, ;"ffi;ffi,'* ;ilil,;ti.'.i. ijt: i^+.n'K.i!-"' in this the gaze, addressed ture, accepts as many modeis as there are sPectators; --.\o,t tL. observed op6 golL-'yOpC(\v precise bui neutral pi.ce, th. observer "nd part in a ceaseless exchange. No gaze is stable, or rather, in 6U#J' the neutral furrow ofthe gaze piercing at a right angle through the canvas, subject and object, the spectator and the model, reverse their roles to infinity7And here the great canvas with its back to us on the extrem-t left of the picture exercises its second function: stubbornly invisible, it prevents the relation ofthese gazes from ever being discoverable or definitely established. The opaque fixity that it establishes on one side renders forever unstable the play of metamorphoses established in the centre between spectator and model. Because we can see only that reverse side, we do not know who we afe, or what we are doing. Seen or seeing? The painter is observing a place which, from moment to rnoment, never ceases to change its content, its'form, its face, its identity. But the attentive immobility of his eyes refers us back to 92 93 ,rrcHEL FoucAUrT another direction they have often followed alreadit, and that soon, there can be no doubt, they will take again: that of the motion'less canvas upon which is being traced, has already been traced pprhaps, for a long_time and forever, a portrait , . $k that will never again be erasedlThus the painter's sovereign gaze commands a virtual triangle whose outline defines this ":,,d# picture of a picture: at the top - the only visible corner - the 146A Q'' :/ f'1 "--,.r\ "{^ " painter's eyes; at one of the base angles, the invisible place o.."pied by the model; at the otheibase angle, the figure ,'r(l*Sle\ probably sketched out on the invisible surface of the canvasJ ,t 5t -* r,",r? 'i,e.f, *e 1As soon as they place the spectator in the field of their ' 1\t',l?}P" %;, the painter's eyes seize hoid of hlm, force him to enter S ih. pi.t.r.., arsign him a place at once privileged and inescapable, levy their luminous and visible tribute from him, and proiect it upon the inaccessible surface of the canvas within tire picturflHe sees his invisibility made visible to the painter and transposed into an image forever invisible to himself. A shock that is augmented and made more inevitable still by a marginal trap. At the extreme right, the picture is lit by a window represented in very sharp perspective; so sharp ttrat we c.an see scarcely more than the embrasure; so that the flood of light streaming through it bathes at the same time, and with equal generosity, two neighbouring spaces, overlapping but irreducible: the surface of the painting, together with the volume it J Jls\Ivt ^^i-+^-to.r"lj^ represents (which ^* +L'^ "^l^- i- ."Li.1" l";..^"-l is to say, the i< nnrrr cci up), and, in front of that surface, the real volume occupied by the spectator (or again, the unreal site of the model). And as it passes through the room from right to left, this vast flood of golden light carries both the spectator towards the painter and the model towards the canvas; it is this light too, that, washing over the painter, makes him visible to the spectator and turns into golden lines, in the model's eyes, the frame of that enigmatic canvas on which his image, once transported there, is to be imprisoned. This extreme, partial, scarcely indicated window frees a whole flow of daylight that serves as the common locus of the representation. It balances tho i--ticihle ..h\zrq on fhe other qide of nictrrre: irrst rs -__- -r_----_ -' J---' -- the -that canvas, by turning its back to the spectators, folds itself in against the picture representing it, and f,orms, by the superimposition of its reverse and visible side upon the surface ofthe pictuie depicting it, the ground, inacdeSsible to us, on ,r.,hich ther-e shimmers the Imase r-_ oar e:-cellence, -_-----__- so does the window, a pure aperture, establish a space as manifest as the other is hidden; as much the common ground of painter, 94 figures, models, and spectators, as the other is solitary (for no one is looking at it, not even the painter). From the right, there streams in through an invisible window the pure volume of a light that renders all representation visible; to the left extends the surface that conceals, on the other side ofits all too visible woven texture, the representation it bears. The light, by flooding the scene (I mean the roorn as well as the canvas: the room represented on the canvas, and the room in which the canvas stands), envelops the figures and the speciators and carries them with it, under the painter's gaze, towards the place where his brush will represent them. But that place is concealed from us. 'We are observing ourselves being observed by the painter, and made visible to his eyes by the same light that enables us to see him. And just as we are about to apprehend ourselves, transcribed by his hand as rAs though in a mirror, we find that we can in fact apprehend nothing of that mirror but its lustreless back. The other side of a psyche. as it happens, exactly opposite the spectators - ouron - the wall forming the far end of the room, Vellzquez has represented a series of pictures; and we see that among all those hanging canvases there is one that shines with particular brightness. Its frame is wider and darker than those of the others; yet there is a fine white line around its inner edge diffusing over its whole surface a light whose souree is not easy to determine; for it comes from nowhere, Now, selves unless it be from a space within itself. In this strange light, two silhouettes are apparentr while above them, and a little behinci them, is a heavy purpie curtain. The oiher piciures reveal little more than a few paler patches buried in a darkness without depth. This particular one, on the other hand, opens onto a perspective of space in which recognizable forms,recede from us in a light that belongs only to itself. Among all these elements intended to provide representations, while impeding them, hiding them, concealing them because of their position or their distance {rom us, this is the only one that fulfils its function in all honesty and enables us to see what it is supposed to show - despite its distance from us, despite the shadows all around it. But it isn't a picture: it is a mirror. It offers us at last that enchantment of the double that until now has been denied us; not oqly by the distant paintings but also by the light in the foreground with its ironic canvas. Of all the representations represented in the picture this is the only one visible; but no one is looking at it. Upright 9J MENrNi,4s MICHEL FOUCAULT beside his canvas, his attention entirely taken up by his model, the painter is unable to see this looking-glass shining so softly behind him. The other figures in the picture are also, for the most part, turned to face what must be taking place in front towards the bright invisibility bordering the canvas, towards that balcony oflight where their eyes can gaze at those who are gazing back at them, and not towards that dark recess that marks the far end of the room in which they are represented. There are, it is true, some heads turned away from us in profile: but not one of them is turned far enough to see, at the back of the room, that solitary mirror, that tiny glowing rectangle that is nothing other than visibility, yet g ze able to grasp it, to render it actual, and to without ^ny enjoy the suddenly ripe fruit ofthe spectacle it offers. It must be admitted that this indifference is equalled only - by the mirror's own. It is reflecting nothing, in fact, of all that is there in the same space as itself; neither the painter with his back to it, nor the figures in the centre of the room. It is not the visible it reflects, in those bright depths. In Dutch painting it was traditional for mirrors to play a duplicating role: they repeated the original contents ofthe picture, only inside an unreal, modified, contracted, concave space. One saw in them the same things as one saw in the first instance in the painting, but decomposed and recomposed according to a different law. Here, the mirror is saying nothing that hrq rlre:<-l': heen seid Yet its oosition .is more or less completely central: its upper edge is exactly on an imaginary line running half-way between the top and the bottom of the painting, it hangs right in the middle of the t-ar waii (or at least in the middle of the portion we can see); it ought, therefore, to be governed by the same lines of perspective as the picture itself; we might well expect the same studio, the sbme painter, the same canvas to be arranged within it according to an identical space; it could be the perfect duplication. In fact,.it shows us nothing of what is represented in the picture itself. Its motionless gaze extends out in front of the picture, into that necessarily invisible region that forms its exterior face, to apprehend the figures arranged in that space. Instead of surrounding visible objects, this mirror cuts straight through the whole field of the representation, ignoring all it might apprehend within that field, and restores visibility to that which resides outside all view. But the inwisihilitv thet it overcomes in this wav is not the invisibilitv of what is hidden: it does not make its way around any obstacle, it is not distorting any perspective, it is addressing 96 itself to what is invisible both because of the picture's structure and because of its existence as painting' What it is reflecting is that which all the figures within the painting are looking at so fixedly, or at least those who are looking straight ahead; it is therefore what the spectator would be able to see if the painting extended further forward, if its bottom edge were brought lower until it included the figures the painter is using as models. But it is also, since the picture does stop ras there, displaying only the painter and his studio, what is exterior to the picture, in so far as it is a picture - in other words, a rectangular fragment of lines and colours intended to represent something to the eyes of any possible spectator. At the far end of the room, ignored by all, the unexpected mirror holds in its glow the figures that the painter is looking at (the painter in his represented, objective reality, the reality of the painter at his work); but also the figures that are looking at the painter (in that material reality which the lines and the colours have laid out upon the canvas). These two groups of {igures are both equally inaccessible, but in different ways: the first because of an effect of composition peculiar to the painting; the second because ofthe law that presides over the very existence of all pictures in general. Here, the action of representation consists in bringing one of these two forms of invisibility into the place ofthe other, in an unstable superirnposition - and in rendering them both, at the same moment, at the other extremity of the picture - at that pole which is the very height of its representation: that of a reflected depth in the far recess of the painting's depth. The mirror provik . , r o-c\L j;/ language inevitably inadequate to the visible ftct, it would be better to say that Yellzquez composed a picture; that in \f"n\ri"rldrfti this picture he represented himseli in his studio or in a room lrn 'i'z \.-,o6\Cl^o "rrJ6*" of the Escorial, in the act of painting two figures whom the Infanta Margarita has come there to watch, together with an -!{ "u \\ entourage of duennas, maids of honour, courtiers, and or.rrl(A \i'/ dwarfs; that we can attribute names to this group of people with great precision: tradition recognizes that here we have Dofla Maria Agustina Sarmiente, over there Nieto, in the foreground Nicolaso Pertusato, an Italian jester. We could then add that the two personages serving as models to the painter are not visible, at least directly; but that we can see them in a mirror; and that they are, without any doubt, King Philip IV and his wife, Marian!] These proper names would form useful landmarks and avoid ambiguous designations; they would tell us in any case what the painter is looking at, and the majority of the characters in the picture along with him. But the relation of language to painting is an infinite relation. It is not that words are imperfect, or that, when confronted by the visible, they MICHE[ FOUCAULT prove insuperably inadequate. Neither can be reduced to the nthcr'c fermc. ii ic in rzein fhet rwe qrw whrt we qee' whet we '-I ""-And it is in vain that we we say. resides in what never see attempt to show, by the use of images, metaphors, or similes, what we are saying; the space where they achreve their spiendour is not that deployed by our eyes but that defined by the sequential elements of syntax. And the proper name, in this particular context, is merely an artifice: it gives us a finger to point with, in other words, to itp[ r "\. r,\ .f -.--)5qMiltfy I '" .k\S\' \n^c9{^Q",-.,er ' .J J.5a V/,tf 'z\ e . Y^ct\' v$" .atV.4,v ,*;('\ ,"ntt ()\' \ )\'7 w&l\;f'')7 :-'1" N,?, n e reflected in the depths of that mirror, and interrogate that reflection in its own terms. First, it is the reverse of the great canvas represented on the left. The reverse, or rather the right side, since it displays in full face what the canvas, by its position, is hiding from us. Furthermore, it is both in opposition to the window and a reinforcement of it. Like the window, it provides a ground common to the painting and to what lies outside it. But the window operates by the continuous movement of an effusion that, flowing fiom right to left, unites the attentive figures, the painter, and the canvas, with the spectacle they are observing; whereas the mirror, on the other hand, by means of a violent, instantaneous movement, a movement of pure surprise, leaps out from the picture in order to reach that which is observed yet invisible in front of it, and then, at the far end of its fictitious depth, to render it visible yet indifferent to every gaze. The compelling tracer line, joining the reflection to that which it is reflecting, cuts perpendicularly through the lateral flood oflight. Lastly - and this is the mirror's third function - it stands adjacent to a doorway that forms an opening, like the mirror itself, in the far wall of the room. This doorway too forms a bright and sharply defined rectangle whose soft light does not shine through into the room. It would be nothing but a gilded panel if it were not recessed out from the room by means of one leaf of a carved door, tho .""'o ^F r .tr*t"i- "-l th. .hol^rrt. nf cerzerel cfenc Beyond the steps, a corridor begins; but instead of losing itself in obscurity, it is dissipated in a yellow dazzle wherc the light, without coming in, whirls around on itself in dynamic repose. Against this background, at once near and limitless, a man stands out in full-length silhouette; he is seen in profile; with one hand he is holding back the weight of a pass surreptitiously from curtain; his feet are placed on different steps; one knee is bent. the space where one speaks to the space where one looks; in other words,.to fold one over the other as though they were the relation of oflanguage language equivalentsput if one wishes to keep the-relation equivalents.lBut to .ririon opFrr, if o.,. wishes to treat their incompatibility as a starting-ioint for speech instead of as an obstacle to be avoided. so as to stay as close as possible to both, then one avoided, infinitv of infinity ot rnust erase those proper DroDer names and preserve the infimty lnust He may be about to enter the room; or he may be merely observing what is going on inside it, content to surprise those within without being seen himself. Like the mirror, his eyes d: :h:T:ln "l*: g,z ryllp',:T::ql 'h', language, always over-meticulous and repetitive anonymousll,l beea-r:se too broad, that the painting may, little by little, release its illuminationsll 'We must therefore pretend not to know who is to be are directed towards the other side ofthe scene; nor is anyone oarring anv more 2ttention to him than to the mirror. We do not know where he has come from: it could be that by following uncertain corridors he has just made his way around the outside of the room in which these characters are collected and the painter is at work; perhaps he too, a short while ago, \.r/as there in the forefront of the scene, in the invisible region still being contemplated by all those eyes in the picture. Like the images perceived in the looking-glass, it is possible that tas vrrrrrNras he too is an emissary from that evident yet hidden space. Even so, there is a difference: he is there in flesh and blood; he has appeared fiom the outside, on the threshold of the MICHEL FOUCAULT area represented; he is indubitable - not a probable reflection but an irruptionJThe mirror, by making visible, beyond even @ th. w"lls of the-studio itself, what is happening in front of the picture, creates, in its sagittal dimension, an oscillation between the interior and the exteriorlOne foot only on the lower step, his body entirely in profile, the ambiguous visitor is coming in and going out at the same time, like a pendulum caught at the bottom of its swing. He repeats on the spot, but in the dark reality of his body, the instantaneous movement of those images flashing across the room, plunging into the mirror, being reflected there, and springing out from it again like visible, new, and identical species. Pale, minuscule, those silhouetted figures in the mirror are challenged by the tall, solid stature of the man appearing in the doorway. But we must move down again from the back of the picture towards the front of the stage; we must leave that periphery whose volute we have just been following. Starting from the painter's gazd, .which constituti:s an off-centre centre to the left, we perceive first of all the back of the canvas, then the paintings hung on the wall, with the mirror in their centre, then the open doorway, then more pictures, of which, because of the sharpness of the perspective, we can see no more than the eciges of the frames, anci finaiiy, at ihe extreme right, the window, or rather the groove in the wall from which the light is pourinq. This spiral shell presents us with the entire cycle of representation; the gaze, the palette and brush, the canvas innocent of signs (these are the material tools of representation), the paintings, the reflections, the real man (the completed representation, but as it were freed from its illusory or truthful contents, which arejuxtaposed to it); then the representation dissolves again: we can see only the frames, and the light that is flooding the pictures from outside, but that they, in return, must reconstitute in their own kind, as though it were coming from elsewhere, passing through their r-.,r wuuucll A,-I ---^ )^ :c^^- scc l:-L- urt -.---l-,- c,------^^^ -Li^ ^wc uu, lrl ldLr, Llus rrBrrr trarrlcs. nnu clarK the painting, apparently welling out from the crack of the frame; and from there it moves over to touch the brow, the cheekbones, the eyes, dne gaze of the painter, who is holding a palette in one hand and in the other a fine brush - and so ,. -1 i-1 ^,- ,---l---^r -L--r--^l uy rrrcalrs --^^-uL tlrat l:^Lllglrr, :^rs ls Lrusc(r, ur tatllcl , L-ule spLrar j. . opened. This opening is not, like the one in the back wall, made door; it is the whole breadth of the picture Las i,l.h ."J the looks that pass across it are not those of a distant visitor. The frieze that occupies the foreground and the middle ground of the picture represents - if we include the painter - eight characrers. Five of these, their heads more o, l"rs bent, turned or inclined, are looking straight out at rieht angles to the surface of the picture. The centre of the er;rp ir o..npied by the little Infanta, with her flared pink ind gr"y dress. The princess is turning her head towards the righiside of the picture, while her torso and the big panniers oiher dress slant away slightly towards the left; but her gaze is directed absolutely straight towards the spectator standing ,\ in front of the painting. fivertical line dividing the canvasffi into two equal halves.would pass between the child's eyes' Her face is a third of the total height of the picture above the lower frame. So that here, beyond all question, resides the \-/ orincipal theme of the composition; this is the very object of it emphasize and to itrlr p"iltti.tg. As though to prove this .,r.n *ot", Yel6zquez has made use of a traditional visual device: beside the principal figure he has placed a secondary one, kneeling and looking in towards the central one' Like a donor in prayer, like an angel greeting the Virgin, a maid of honour on her knees is stretching out her hands towards the pri.rcesfl,Fler face stands out in perfect profile against the tackground. It is at the same height as that of the child. This at thc nrinces"- -",rd onlv at the orincess. rvv[rrr5 ^*+^*']^-t rri. l^^Li-o drrurru4rrl ---- J --of honour, maid another t'here stands A little to the right, bv oullinq back a MENTNAS ..iaon. ^CD .onnY^" 'f\f also turned towards the Infanta, leaning slightly over her, but with her eyes clearly directed towarcis the front, towarcis the same spot already being gazed at by the painter and the princess. Lastly, two other groups made up of two figures iach: otte of these groups is further away; the other, made up of the two dwarfs, is right in the foreground- One charrit.. in each ofthese pairs is looking straight out, the other to the left or the right. Because of their positions and their size, these two groups corresppnd and themselves form a pair: behind, the courtiers (the woman, to the left, looks to (the bov. who is at the extreme the -"- rioht\' "o"-t, in front- the dwarfs of the picture). This group the centre towards right, looks in carl be taken to conmanner, of characters- arransed in this -__-'^D-stitute, according.to the way one looks at the picture and the centre of reference chosen, two different figures' The {irst would he a larse X: the too left-hand point of this X would be the painter's eyes; the top right-hand one, the male courtier's eves: at the bottom left-hand corner there is the corner IOI U-/ MTcHEL FoucAULT of the canvas represented with its back towards us (or, more exactly, the foot ofthe easel); at the bottom right-hand corner, the dwarf (his foot on the dog's back). Where these two lines intersect, at the centre of the X, are the eyes of the Infanta. The second figure would be more that of a vast curve, its two ends determined by the painter on the left and the male courtier on the right - both these extremities occurring high up in the picture and set back from its surface; the centre of the curve. much nearer to us, would coincide with the princess's face and the look her maid of honour is directing towards her. This curve describes a shallow hollow across the centre ofthe picture that at once contains and sets offthe position of the mirror at the back. There are thus two centres around which the picture may be organized, according to whether the fluttering attention of the spectator decides to settle in this place or in that. The princess is standing upright in the centre of a St Andrew's cross, which is revolving around her with its eddies of courtiers, maids of honour, animals, and fools. But this pivoting movement is frozen. Frozen by a spectacle that would be absolutely invisible if those sarhe characters, suddenly motionless, were not offering us, as though in the hollow of a goblet, the possibility of seeing in the depths of a mirror the unforeseen double of what they are observing. In depth, it is the princess who is superimposed on the mirror; vertically, :.:^ rL rJ +L^ Ltlg -^d^^+:^ttrlELttull because ofthe rL^. Tr,,r ^- +L^ LrrL f^^faLL. uuL, Lttdt i^ rs ^,,-^-:*-^^^l )uPgr rrrrPUJLu vrl perspective, they are very close to one another. Moreover, from each of them there springs an ineluctable line: the line issuing from the mirror crosses the whole of the depth represented (and even more, since the mirror forms a hole in the back wall and brings a further space into being behind it). The other line is shorter: it comes from the child's 'eyes and crosses only the foreground. These two sagittal lines converge at a very sharp angle, and the point where they meet, springing out from the painted surface, occurs in front of the picture, more or less exactly at the spot from which we are observing it. It is an uncertain point because we cannot oaa it. rrar ir'i. since it ^- i-^"it^l-'l^.-'l A^€'^^A h^;ht --.fo-tl" l/v[r! r^^ lvvt is determined by those two dominating figures and confirmed further by other, adjacent dotted lines that also have their origin inside the picture and emerge from it in a similar fashion. \Y/L.^r'i. r1"^*^ tl'o- ."^ l^cr 4! r4r!t ^"L ar completely inaccessible because i; that nlara tLat ic it is exterior to the picture, raS lzrwrr{ras yet is prescribed by all the lines of its composition? What is the spectacle, what are the faces that are reflected first of all in the depths ofthe Infanta's eyes, then in the courtiers' and the painter's, and finally in the distant glow of the mirror? But the question immediately becomes a double one: the face reflected in the mirror is also the face that is contemplating it; what all the figures in the picture are looking at are the two figures to whose eyes they too present a scene to be observed. The entire picture is looking out at a scene for which it is itself a scene. A condition of pure reciprocity manifested by the observing and observed mirior, the two stages of which are uncoupled at the two lower corners of the picture: on the left the canvas with its back to us, by means of which the exterior point is made into pure spectacle; to the right the dog lying on the floor, the only element in the picture that is neither looking at anything nor moving, because it is not intended, with its deep reliefs and the light playing on its silky hair, to be anything but an object to be seen. @u, fi.st glance at the painting told us what it is that creates this spectacle-as-observation. It is the two sovereigns. One can sense their presence already in the respectful gaze of the figures in the picture, in the astonishment of the child and the dwarf. We recognize them, at the far end of the picture, in the two tiny silhouettes gleaming out from the lookingof all those attentive faces, all those richly elass. In ---- midst --- the D_---dressed bodies, they are the palest, the most unreal, the most compromised of all the painting's images: a movement, iittie iight, wouici be sufficient to eciipse them. Of aii a these *' ^ (xj" LXr" -k.oo K,r P ,1\,?9" figures represented before us, they are also the most ignored, since no one is paying the slightest attention to that reflection which has slipped into the, room behind them all, silently occupying its unsuspected space; in so far as they are visible, they are the frailest and the most distant form of all reality. Inversely, in so far as they stand outside the picture and are therefore withdrawn from it in.an essential invisibility, they provide the centre around which the entire representation is ordered: it is thev who are being faced, it is towards them that everyon. l, tort .@ it is to tf,eir eyes that the princess is being presented in her holiday clothes; from the canvas with its back to us to the Infanta, and from the Infanta to the dwarf playing on the extreme right, there runs a curve (or again, the lower fork of the X opens) that orders the whole arrangement of the picture to their gaze aind thus makes ap- ro3 ^ r{rg VIICHEL FOUCAULT parent the true centre of the composition, to'which the Infanta's gaze and the image in the mirror are both finally subj ect. In the realm of the anecdote, this centre is symbolically sovereign, since it is occupied by King Philip IV and his wife. But it is so above all because of the triple function it fulfils in relation to the picture. For in it there occurs an exact superimposition of the model's gaze as it is being painted, of the spectator's as he contemplates the painting, and of the painter's as he is composing his picture (not the one represented, but the one in front of us which we are discussing). These three 'observing' functions come together in a point exterior to the picture: that is, an ideal point in relation to what is represented, but a perfe-ctly real one too, since it is also the starting-point that makes the representation possible. With that reality itself it cannot not be invisible. And yet, that reality is projected within the picture - projected and diffracted in three forms that correspond to the three functions of that ideal and real point. They are: on the left, the painter with his palette in his hand (a self-portrait of YeIlzquez); to the right, the visitor; one foot on the step, ready to enter the room; he is taking in the scene from the back, but he can see the royal couple, who are the spectacle itself, from the front; and lastly, in the centre, the reflection ofthe king and the queen, richly dressed, motionless, in the attitude and portraits. Around the scene are arranged all the signs and successive forms of representation; but the double relation of the representation to its model and to its sovereign, to its author as well as to the person to whom it is being offered, this relation is necessarily interrupted. It can never be present without some residuum, even in a representation that offers ^^ d ^ JPUUL4lru. ^--^+^^l^ 4> Tur +Lur! ,-]-^+L. ulyru flrat rravaraFc fhe nirtrrrc A reflection that shows us quite simply, and in shadow, what all those in the foreground are looking at. It restores, as if by magic, what is lacking in every gaze: in the painter's, hollowing it into a fictitious recess and projecting it forward in front of itself, it is not possible for the pure felicity of the image ever to present in a full light both the master who is the model, which his represented double is duplicating over there in the picture; in the king's, his portrait, which is being finished offon that slope ofthe canvas that he cannot perceive from where he stands; in that of the spectator, the real centre of the scene, whose place he himself has taken as though by usurpation. But perhaps this generosity on the part of the mirror is feigned; perhaps it is hiding as much as and even more than it reveals. That space where the king and his wife representing and the sovereign who is being represented. fFerhaps ihere exists, in this painting by Vel6zquez, the rEFresentation as it were of'Classical representation, and the definition of the space it opens up to us. And, indeed, reprepresentation undertakes to represent itself here in all its elements, with its images, the eyes to which it is offered the faces it makes visible, the gestures that call it into being. But there, in the midst of this dispersion that it is simultaneously r^-athFr,-rl ..".".{ino nrrt hefore rrs indicated ^-^,,-i-compellingly from every side, is an essential void: the nec- L^'ll Jwdy -,-,^,. uvru L^l^--^ ugtu[Bs --^^ ^^..^ll-.,-,^llwglt r^ ^*ri^+ drru ^-l +^ rlrL drtlJt LUL JPLVt9u4uy Lv *L^ tu +L^ tator: in the depths of the mirror there could also appear there ought to appear - the anonymous face ofthe passer-by and that of YelSzquez. For the function of that reflection is to draw into the interior of the picture what is intimately f^--:-rvrlrBrr t^ 1.. tL^ LU rt. tllg !L^! -^-^ Lttdl YdLE L^^ ltds ^-^^-:-^l urSdrrrztu :+ ^-l rL drlu +L(rru ^^-^ 64Lu {)-LvL which it is displayed. But because they are present within the picture, to the right and to the left, the artist and the visitor LAS MENINdS tation came into being, reached completion, only to dissolve once more into the light; the cycle was complete. The lines that run through the depth ofthe picture, on the other hand, are not complete; they all lack a segment of their trajectories. This gap is caused by the absence of the king - an absence that is an artifice on the part of the painter. But this attifice both conceals and indicates another vacancy that is, on the contrary, immediate: that of the painter and the spectator when they are looking at or composing the picture. It may be that, in this picture, as in all the representations of which it is, as it were, the manifest essence, the profound invisibility of what one sees is inseparable from the invisibility of the person seeing - despite all mirrors, reflections, imitations, :.^^1C Il)gll of patient modeis. r04 cannot be given a place in the mirror; just as the king appears in the depths ofthe looking-glass precisely because he does not belong to the Picture. In the great volute that runs around the perimeter of the studio, from the gaze of ,the painter, with his motionless hand and palette, right round to the finished paintings, represen- l:-^-^ ^^^^*-. urrdyP gssdry ^fd"^+ -',hi-h i" itc fn'rnrlctin- s dL(' - nfthe person it resembles and the person in whose eyes it is only a resemblance. This very subject - which is the same - has hcen elirled r:us And rvy^vvvr tenresentation- freed finallv from the re^^--* ^_^_*__J Iation that was impeding it, can offer itself as representation in its oure form. \ ,-/ ro5 ..4

Tutor Answer

Microtutor_Burchu
School: University of Virginia

At...

flag Report DMCA
Review

Anonymous
Goes above and beyond expectations !

Similar Questions
Hot Questions
Related Tags
Study Guides

Brown University





1271 Tutors

California Institute of Technology




2131 Tutors

Carnegie Mellon University




982 Tutors

Columbia University





1256 Tutors

Dartmouth University





2113 Tutors

Emory University





2279 Tutors

Harvard University





599 Tutors

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



2319 Tutors

New York University





1645 Tutors

Notre Dam University





1911 Tutors

Oklahoma University





2122 Tutors

Pennsylvania State University





932 Tutors

Princeton University





1211 Tutors

Stanford University





983 Tutors

University of California





1282 Tutors

Oxford University





123 Tutors

Yale University





2325 Tutors