The Crowd

“Work” and the City


George Simnel, �The
Metropolis and Mental Life�, (1900) in R. Sennett Classic Essays on the
Culture of Cities

�� the rapid crowding of
changing images, the sharp discontinuity I the grasp of a single glance, and the
unexpectedness of onrushing impressions.These are the psychological conditions
which the metropolis creates. With each crossing of the street, with the tempo
and multiplicity of economic, occupational, and social life, the city sets up a
deep contrast with small town and rural life with reference to the sensory
foundations of psychic life.The metropolis exacts from man as a discriminating
creature a different amount of consciousness than does rural life.�

Richard Sennett, The
Fall of Public Man,
Cambridge 1977

�Silence in public
became the onky way one could experience public life, especially street life,
without feeling overwhelmed.In the mid-nineteenth century there grew up in
Paris and London, and thence in other Western capitals, a pattern unlike what
was known in London or Paris a century before or is known in most of the
non-Western world today.There grew up the notion that strangers had no right
to speak to other, that each man possessed as a public right an invisible
shield, a right to be left alone.

Public behaviour was a
matter of observation, of passive participation, of a certain kind of
voyeurism.The �gastronomy of the eye� Balzac called it;one was open to
everything, one rejects nothing a priori from one�s purview, provided one
needn�t become a participant, enmeshed in a scene.This invisible sail of
silence as a right meant that knowledge in public was a matter of observation —
of scenes, of women and men, of locales.Knowledge was no longer to be produced
by social intercourse�

Guy Debord, The Modern
City: Spectacle and Commodity, The Society of the Spectacle Paris, 1977

�The entire life of
societies in which modern conditions of production reign announces itself as an
immense accumulation of spectacles.Everything that was directly lived has
moved away into representation.�

Tim Clark on Paris,
The Painting of Modern Life

�� the implications for
capitalist society of the progressive shift within production towards the
provision of consumer goods and services, and the accompanying �colonization of
everyday life�.The word �colonization� conjures up associations with the
Marxist theory of imperialism, and is meant to.It points to the massive
internal extension of the capitalist market — the invasion and restructuring of
whole areas of free time, private life, leisure, and personal expression which
had been left in the first push to constitute an urban proletariat, relatively
uncontrolled.It indicates a new phase of commodity production — the marketing,
the making into commodities, of whole areas of social practice which had once
been referred to casually as everyday life�

�consumerism�, for
instance, or �the society of leisure�, the rise of mass media, the expansion of
advertising, the hypertrophy of official diversions (Olympic Games, party
conventions, biennales)� Certainly the Paris that Meyer Shapiro was celebrating,
in which commercialized forms of life and leisure were so insistently replacing
those �privately improvised�, does seem to fit the preceding description quite
well.And it will be argued that the replacement was not amatter of mere
cultural and ideological refurbishing but of all-embracing economic change:a
move to the world of grands magasins and grands boulevards and their
accompanying industries of tourism, recreation, fashion and display — industries
which helped alter the relations of production in Paris as a whole.�

��the beach� which a
little while ago delighted us, looks on my return like a terrible masquerade�

We are going to consider
the above statements (though made about Paris) in terms of the following

James Abbot
McNeill Whistler, Wapping, 1861-4

The literature excepts above all
speak of the City as being fragmented.The lack of interaction between the
elements, detachment.In the above we can see this pictorially.The girl
(presumed to be a prostitute — see openness of pose, lack of reticence in her
gaze) seems detached from the men — even in the scumbling of the painting
technique she is handled separately/differently.The three figures are detached
from the scene behind (raised up, strong dark colours against the lightness of
the water, relaxing vs. the industry behond).What is the relationship between
the three and to the scene behind?Unclear, problem of legibility.

The city and images of the city
continually throw up this unreadability.

Is this a conventional composition?
Foreground detail, strong verticals, winding route through to the horizon.But
the strong light/dark contrasts suggest a photographic/print-like quality.The
individual elements seem fragmented, even in their treatment.Reminds people of
the work of Manet (though look at the date, pre Dejeuner sur l�herbe/Olympia).
In its individual loneliness think Caillebotte.Summed up as a glance, not a
gaze.Compare to other images of the River Thames [hardly comparing like with

John Constable,
Opening of Waterloo Bridge, 1829 JMW Turner, Richmond Hill on the Prince
Regent’s Birthday,

exhibited 1819

Ford Madox
Brown, Work, 1852-63

Christian socialists (far right) –
the brainworkers

Immigrants below them — out of work

Orange seller in right distance is
being prevented from working

Flower man — never taught to work

Do-gooders/volunteer ladies behind
flower man — unpaid work (supported by other workers, their husbands)

Aristocrats — don�t need to work

Heroic central figure and other
physical workers — seven ages of man?Manual work equated to artists toil — see
figure in front of girl is sifting earth, as the artists sifts his information.
Pot-man with newspaper indicating he can read.

Kids are our instincts —

Dogs — metaphor for domesticity

But is this legible?If we didn�t
know the above, could we discern from picture?It is certainly a fragmented
composition, an accumulation of detail.BUT IS IT A LANDSCAPE?From
mid-century the genres are being broken down, categories fragmenting.This is
literally about the creation of a city — bringing in piped water to the suburbs.

What connects the Whistler and
�Work�?Very different artists and philosophies but their subject matter — the
city — is new and has therefore caused them to search for a material vision
which has produced similar results:fragmentation, figures and landscape not
quite connecting.

Consider these figured compositions to John Atkinson

London Bridge:
Half Tide, 1884

Grimshaw is still addressing the
industrialness of the City — working ships — but his nighttime preference, long
view (creating a vista), monotone palette heightened by dusk/dawn time slows
down the pace of life.Note the harmony of the even warehouses on the left, the
strong horizontal of the bridge, the rhythm of the water.This is an aesthetic
response.Note how images of St. Paul�s address a nationalist tone, the river
and the cathedral as a pivotal image is a frequent motif.

Grimshaw, Nightfall Down the Thames,
1880Vicat Cole, The Pool of London,1888

Grimshaw�s images of the streets in
his favourite theme of nighttime, capture perfectly the �spectacle� aspect of
late 19th century city life.Gas lighting came first to London (not
Paris) — 1812 and with plate glass transformed the urban, inner city landscape —
both commercially and visually.Shops with windows became points of display,
for people to peruse.A passion for gilded advertisements reflected in the lit
windows to create a pleasurable experience, with light came increased safety and
increased people onto the streets.Grimshaw�s paintings capture this.

Liverpool Quay by Moonlight,
1887Boar lane-Leeds,

Of course this mingling of people on
the same streets brought problems, the previous structure of society was more
difficult to read, the spaces they occupied less defined.

William Powell Frith specialized in
commentaries on the juxtaposition of society in the new spaces.He did a series
of engravings commenting on Regent Street at different times of the day.At
Noon a mixed clientele of chaperoned ladies, families whereas at 2.00pm the
flaneurs and their �traviatas� (high class prostitutes).

In Paddington Station (1862) he
adopts a landscape format to produce a series of incidences which are polarized
� at different ends of the social spectrum.These are generalized �types�.In
Derby Day (1856-8) the city and the countryside are united, on the edge.

People were now aware of the
different strata of society, being brought face to face with it and we will see
the growth of charity, charitable works, and images to encourage charity�.. but
of course they are very much addressed to the middle class market.

Frith, Poverty & Wealth, 1888 Gustave Dore[2],
Wentworth St-Whitechapel,Dore, Over London by Rail,


Rosetti�s �Found� (1853) is an
extraordinary picture — never finished.[Carol into raptures over the brick
wall! —building up of paint replicating the building of the wall itself,
metaphor for industrial revolution, mass production.Extraordinary clarity,
workmanship, richness of texture/detail, etc].

What does it mean?The bridge in
the background bridges city and country (her rich colour of urban clothes, his
subdued country smock).This is all about polarity, opposites.What is the
netted calf on the cart saying about their relationship?What is that embedded
cannon/bollard blocking the way?This is an unresolved image.Many images of
the city are unresolved.

Ford Madox
Brown, An English Autumn Afternoon-Hampstead 1853, 1852-3


John Atkinson Grimshaw was born in

Leeds in 1836. His parents were strict

Baptists and his mother strongly disapproved of his interest in
painting and on one occasion she destroyed all his paints.

In 1852 Grimshaw became a clerk at the

Great Northern Railway office in

Leeds. The city had several art galleries and Grimshaw was able to
see the work of

Holman Hunt
(The Light of the

Henry Wallis (Death of Chatterton)

William Powell Frith (Derby Day).

Grimshaw decided to become a full-time painter in 1861.His paintings
were sold in two art galleries, smaller picture dealers and a couple of
bookshops in Leeds. One of his main customers was Thomas Fenteman, who
owned an antiquarian booksellers. Fenteman was a deeply religious man
and would only buy the pictures after Grimshaw had confirmed that they
had not been painted on a Sunday.

William Agnew, a

London art dealer, began purchasing his work. Further success came
when a picture by Grimshaw was accepted by the

Royal Academy.

Until the early 1870s Grimshaw’s paintings were predominantly still
lifes with a few landscapes of the

Leeds area. However, he gradually became interested in painting
night scenes. These paintings often included the smoke pollution and
damp fogs that were common in industrial cities in the late 19th


Gustave Dore was born in Strasbourg in 1832. He became a book
illustrator in Paris and his commissions included work by Rabelais,
Balzac and Dante. In 1853 he was asked to illustrate the works of

Lord Byron. This was followed by other work for British publishers
including a new illustrated English Bible.
Dore’s English Bible (1865) was a great success and in 1867
Gustave Dore had a major exhibition of his work in

London. This led to the foundation of the Dore Gallery in New Bond

In 1869,

Blanchard Jerrold, the son of

Douglas Jerrold, suggested that they worked together to produce a
comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had got the idea from The
Microcosm of London
, that had been produced by

Rudolf Ackermann,

William Pyne and

Thomas Rowlandson in 1808.

Dore signed a five-year project with he publishers, Grant & Co, that
involved him staying in

London for three months a year. Dore was paid the vast sum of
�10,000 a year for the proposed art work. The book, London: A
, with 180 engravings by Dore, was eventually published in

Although a commercial success, many of the critics disliked the book.
Several were upset that Dore had appeared to concentrate on the poverty
that existed in

London. Gustave Dore was accused by the Art Journal of
“inventing rather than copying”. The

Westminster Review claimed that ” Dore gives us sketches in
which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down”.

2006, Ms S. Sharpe

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