Bradford Collins has assembled here a collection of twelve essays that demonstrates, through the interpretation of a single work of art, the abundance and complexity of methodological approaches now available to art historians. Focusing on Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, each contributor applies to it a different methodology, ranging from the more traditional to the newer, including feminism, Marxism, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and semiotics. By demonstrating the ways that individual practitioners actually apply the various methodological insights that inform their research, Twelve Views of Manet’s «Bar» serves as an excellent introduction to critical methodology as well as a provocative overview for those already familiar with the current discourse of art history. In the process of gaining new insight into Manet’s work, and into the discourse of methodology, one discovers that it is not only the individual painting but art history itself that is under investigation. An introduction by Richard Shiff sets the background with a brief history of Manet scholarship and suggestions as to why today’s accounts have taken certain distinct directions. The contributors, selected to provide a broad and balanced range of methodological approaches, include: Carol Armstrong, Albert Boime, David Carrier, Kermit Champa, Bradford R. Collins, Michael Paul Driskel, Jack Flam, Tag Gronberg, James D. Herbert, John House, Steven Z. Levine, and Griselda Pollock.
Bradford R. Collins is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of South Carolina.