We all know Charles Baudelaire as a great French poet, yet his essays on art (especially then-contemporary art of the 19th century) are also extremely interesting! Baudelaire believed an artist has to depict the live that surrounds him, so he needs to be a part of the crowd. immerse him or herself into the flux of the present in order to best represent the qualities of the modern age. Baudelaire wrote: “The pleasure which we derive from the representation of the present is due not only to the beauty with which it can be invested, but also to its essential quality of being present.”
For Baudelaire, the essential quality of being present is best seen in the activities of the flâneur, an idle walker and passionate observer of the complexities of the modern age. It is the flaneur, a person completely immersed in the crowd, who can best represent the intricacies of the age. So, the writer penned in his “The Painter of Modern Life” (1863) a portrait of Constantin Guys, an artist whose immersion into Paris street life produced an important artistic rendering of his present.
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