Art

El museu d’Orsay: una mirada en clau de gènere

Amb motiu del 29è aniversari de l’obertura del museu d’Orsay i per començar a preparar la visita programada per l’octubre del 2016, es proposa realitzar una aproximació a l’impressionisme a partir de dues reflexions:

  1. D’una banda, de la mà de Linda Nochlin, un estudi comparat del tractament de la figura femenina nua, a través de les obres:
  • William Bouguereau: Naixement de Venus, 1879.
  • Alexandre Cabanel: El naixement de Venus, 1863
  • Édouard Manet: Olímpia. 1863
  • Auguste Renoir: Les banyistes, cap el 1918-1919
  • Paul Cézanne: Una moderna Olímpia, 1873-1874
  1. D’una altra, de la mà de Belinda Thomson, un intent de respondre la pregunta del per què la major part dels artistes masculins que formaven part dels impressionistes es varen casar amb dones inferiors a ells en l’escala social.

Bouguereau_Venus
William Bouguereau: Naixement de Venus, 1879. Oli sobre tela. 303 x 216 cm. Musée d’Orsay, París.

Quan entrem a un museu l’activitat bàsica que hom sol realitzar és la de «mirar». I quan es mira una obra com Naixement de Venus de Bouguereau, pocs són els visitants turistes o, fins i tot, amants de l’art que no la trobin «bella» i que no sentin davant d’ella el «plaer de mirar». La qüestió estar a saber si el «plaer» i el «mirar» són activitats objectives, desproveïdes de prejudicis heretats, o més aviat construccions socials relacionades amb les diferents formes en què se’ns ha ensenyat a viure, com homes i dones, en la mateixa societat.

L’acte de mirar esdevé fonamental a l’hora de realitzar una anàlisi sobre l’adquisició de la subjectivitat perquè -segons la teoria psicoanalítica- és a través de la vista com nens i nenes prenen consciència de les diferències sexuals ja a la infantesa. La relació entre l’espectador i l’escena que està mirant és sempre una relació de ruptura, d’identificació parcial, de plaer i de desconfiança[1].

El «plaer de mirar» apareix en la teoria freudiana clàssica com un dels «components instintius» a través dels quals es desenvolupa l’instint sexual adult. Per a Freud, l’acció de mirar es pot associar amb formes exclusives de resposta masculina, on la gratificació es produiria via fetitxisme, i gràcies a l’anul·lació de la por (als objectes se’ls atorga un significat sexual i és a través d’ells com es cerca la gratificació sexual), de manera que la por a la impotència queda compensada pel voyeurisme (quan la satisfacció sexual s’assoleix mirant d’amagat les activitats o parts sexuals d’una altra persona -recordem els quadres sobre Susanna i els vells).

No hi ha res tan simple com el «plaer de mirar», però mai és una acció innocent: sempre s’està lluitant pel poder.

La frase el «plaer de mirar» suscita tot tipus de preguntes: de qui és el plaer i el mirar al que ens estem referint? Quina és la relació que es pot establir entre el poder i l’acció de mirar o de ser mirat? Com es troba legitimada i codificada culturalment l’acció de mirar? Com es relacionen entre sí la forma en la qual homes i dones miren la vida amb els processos de representació, l’acció de mirar l’art i el sofisticat cúmul de convencionalismes que es troben rere l’art?

John Berger, a principis de la dècada de 1970 va dir que «els homes actuen i les dones apareixen. Els homes miren les dones. Les dones es contemplen a si mateixes mentre són mirades».[2] Aquesta proposta converteix als homes en els portadors actius de la mirada amb una obsessió narcisista i a les dones en mers objectes passius d’aquesta mirada.

Com l’art transforma la dona en objecte? «Les imatges estan reproduint, a un nivell ideològic, les relacions de poder que s’estableixen entre homes i dones. La dona és present en la imatge, però amb les connotacions específiques d’un cos i una naturalesa passiva, posseïble, desproveïda de poder i que està a l’abast de qualsevol. L’home no apareix en la imatge, però aquesta reflecteix el seu punt de vista, la seva posició dominant i el seu discurs.»[3]

El resultat directe de la fantasia masculina és aquesta reducció de la dona a objecte en les representacions artístiques. És un quadre que ens diu moltes més coses d’aquest paper dominant que la societat ha atorgat al que és masculí, dels seus temors i ansietats, del que ens diu sobre el món femení, malgrat que aparentment aquest és el seu tema. Dins d’aquest sistema de representacions, la feminitat es troba condicionada per la creativitat masculina, absent de la imatge però que és el que defineix i controla el món que crea. L’art es troba particularment implicat en la formació i en la fonamentació de les relacions de poder desiguals que s’estableixen entre els homes i les dones, i no solament reflecteix aquestes desigualtats, sinó que constitueix un dels pilars bàsics sobre els quals es recolza.

Davant d’un quadre com Naixement de Venus de Bouguereau, l’espectador típic gaudeix de l’espectacle d’un nu provocador i lasciu. En parlar de la “mirada”, la teoria contemporània s’està referint a aquesta “mirada” social i psíquica, a aquesta “mirada” sense innocència pròpia de la cultura. La “mirada” mai no és arbitrària, personal o idiosincràtica. Parlar de la “mirada” és parlar de models compartits i habituals de mirar: com mira i com és mirat l’home dins d’un context social determinat. I els homes i dones reaccionen de manera diferent davant d’aquestes accions de mirar i de ser mirat.

Intentem aplicar aquestes consideracions a l’anàlisi comparada de dues obres del museu d’Orsay: Cabanel_Venus

Alexandre Cabanel: El naixement de Venus, 1863. Oli sobre tela. 130 x 225 cm. Paris, Musée d’Orsay, París.

 Manet_Olimpia

Édouard Manet: Olímpia. 1863. Oli sobre tela. 130,5 x 190 cm. París. Musée d’Orsay.

Ambdues són obres que foren pintades en una època encara molt fortament marcada per la tradició acadèmica. Segons l’Acadèmia era possible establir el valor d’una obra sense conèixer-ne l’autor. Existien uns paràmetres –els del formalisme: composició, equilibri, ritme, harmonia…– i una jerarquia –dibuix, temàtica…–, unes normes, principis i regles als quals s’havia de sotmetre l’artista. Eren aquestes normes i regles les que permetien atorgar un valor a l’obra d’art. Fins a mitjan segle XIX, hi havia un patró convencional del que és Bell establert per l’Acadèmia.

Els pintors havien de respectar un cert nombre de principis, que s’havien fixat progressivament als quals s’havien de sotmetre els pintors:

  1. Respectar la jerarquia dels gèneres. De més a menys noble: pintura al·legòrica, pintura d’història, retrat, escena de gènere (de la vida quotidiana), paisatge, marina, pintura d’animals, natura morta de peixos i altres animals, natura morta de fruits i flors. Els únics temes dignes de ser representats eren els temes clàssics i cristians
  2. Afirmar la primacia del dibuix sobre el color. El dibuix és l’element essencial que condiciona l’èxit de l’obra
  3. Aprofundir l’estudi del nu. La representació de la figura humana quedava restringida a un nombre limitat de poses i de gestos expressius nobles manllevats del classicisme i de l’Alt Renaixement. La figura humana constitueix la forma més noble i expressa la bellesa absoluta en la seva perfecció
  4. Privilegiar el treball en el taller respecte al treball a l’aire lliure.
  5. Realitzar obres acabades. Cal que les obres tinguin un aspecte finit, acabat. Per això la seva factura ha de ser llisa i la pinzellada no visible.
  6. Imitar els antics, imitar la naturalesa. Les formes pintades, per ser perfectes havien de copiar el natural
  7. La composició pictòrica ha de respectar l’equilibri, l’harmonia i la unitat clàssica: no hi ha d’haver cap element discordant, ni en la forma ni en l’expressió

La majoria dels artistes se situaven en aquest marc i obtenien -generalment- el favor del públic i de la crítica; és el cas de Cabanel. Altres pintors, sense qüestionar totalment aquest sistema, evolucionaven al marge i trobaven més dificultats a fer admetre les seves obres; fou el cas de Manet.

El quadre de Cabanel representa una dona estirada sobre el mar, envoltada d’escuma, amb llargs cabells rossos i ondulats que fan joc amb les ones. Cinc àngels volen sobre ella. Al seu darrere, el cel és blau i tranquil. La mar i les ones recorden que Venus ha nascut de l’escuma del mar, i els amorets que l’acompanyen celebren aquest naixement. Al fons, l’illa de Xipre. A l’esquerra, surt el sol. La seva pell és clara i pàl·lida, està nua. Sembla despertar-se ja que els seus ulls estan lleugerament oberts i estira els seus braços. Fou un dels grans èxits del Saló de 1863 on fou adquirida per Napoleó III.

L’ofici virtuós de Cabanel fa d’aquesta pintura fàcil i refinada un perfecte exemple de l’art que rebia llavors l’adhesió del públic i de les instàncies oficials; dins de l’esperit eclèctic característic del Segon Imperi, barreja les referències a Ingres i a la pintura del segle XVIII. El tema mitològic només és aquí un pretext per abordar un nu la idealització del qual no exclou la lascívia.

Amb Olimpia, Manet reinventa el tema tradicional del nu femení a través del joc d’una pintura franca i sense compromís. Tant el tema com el llenguatge pictòric expliquen l’escàndol que va provocar l’obra en el Saló de 1865. Tot i que multiplica les referències formals i iconogràfiques: La Venus d’Urbino de Ticià, La maja nua de Goya i el tema de l’odalisca amb l’esclava negra tractat sobretot per Ingres, Manet tradueix pictòricament la fredor i el prosaisme d’un tema molt contemporani. La Venus es converteix en una prostituta que mira amb desafiament a l’espectador. Va ser considerable la violència de les reaccions suscitades per aquest qüestionament del nu idealitzat, fonament de la tradició acadèmica. Els crítics varen vilipendiar «aquesta odalisca de ventre groc», però va ser defensada per alguns contemporanis amb Zola al capdavant.

Amb aquest quadre de grans dimensions, inicialment previst per al Saló dels Refusats del mateix any, però que no es va exposar fins el Saló de 1865, Manet va provocar un escàndol. La figura nua ajaguda es basava en la Venus d’Urbino de Ticià (que Manet havia copiat a Florència feia deu anys), però la seva sexualitat descarada es va interpretar com un afront a les normes imperants del decòrum.

L’Olímpia de Manet representa una dona blanca nua ajaguda damunt d’un llit, mirant a l’espectador (potser una prostituta que sembla provenir d’un harem oriental i es prepara visiblement per prendre un bany) i una dona negra vestida que aguanta un ram de flors i mira a Olímpia. A la dreta hi ha un gat negre amb el llom arquejat; a dalt, a l’esquerra, una cortina verda descorreguda i al mig, darrere l’Olímpia, un envà i una cortina no del tot tancada permeten veure un petit fragment de l’alcova o sala d’espera que hi ha més enllà. El pla del llit és quasi paral·lel a la línia de visió de l’espectador, i els llençols a l’esquerra i el batí a la dreta envaeixen en la seva caiguda l’espai de l’espectador. La composició del quadre està, per tant, equilibrada.

Va ser criticat per la seva tècnica que eliminava la delicada gradació tonal de la pràctica acadèmica i creava uns vívids contrastos de llum i d’ombra. «Les ombres són indicades amb taques de betum més o menys grans», va escriure un crític, i afegia: «La dona menys bella té ossos, músculs, pell i alguna mena de color. Aquí no hi ha res de tot això.»[4]

El cos d’Olímpia, a més, suggeria una sexualitat descarada subratllada per la seva mà flexionada sobre el sexe (per amagar-lo o designar-lo?); però no era una cortesana de luxe pagada per a confirmar els mites del desig masculí. Les repetides referències a la negritud i a l’aspecte simiesc d’Olímpia dels crítics de l’època ens parlen de degeneració, depravació i inferioritat intel·lectuals, físiques i morals (segons la ciència de l’època, les dones negres i les prostitutes posseïen deformacions genitals congènites que les condicionaven a la hipersexualitat). El quadre de Manet representava alguna cosa d’aquesta decadència i per això va precipitar tot un seguit de crítiques negatives i poc fonamentades que constituïren el seu escàndol.

De fet, l’Olímpia de Manet és més moderna que avantguardista. No va aconseguir crear una nova classe de pintura d’història que substituís al gènere fins ara exaltat.

L’atmosfera general d’erotisme és reforçada per la presència del gat negre amb la cua aixecada, als peus de la noia. L’animal va ser afegit per Manet, no sense humor, per tal de reemplaçar l’innocent gos que figura en la Venus d’Urbino, i potser igualment per tal de designar metafòricament el que la noia amaga precisament amb la seva mà. Aquest gat tradueix una presència masculina, versió que reforça la presència del ram de flors que porta la serventa.

El caràcter altiu de l’Olímpia (Victorine Meurent) es tradueix en el fet que la serventa del segon pla es fon amb el color del mur i, tot i que vol donar a l’Olímpia les flors que acaba de rebre, aquesta no li presta cap atenció i continua posant i provocant els espectadors amb una mirada franca i insolent.

Altres elements que han pertorbat les crítiques són el ram de flors, naturalesa morta que apareix de manera incongruent en un quadre d’un nu, i també el braçalet (que pertanyia a la mare del pintor!). A més, al segle XIX el nu només era concebible si pertanyia a un altre espai i un altre temps. En aquesta tela, el model està fortament individualitzat la qual cosa s’oposa a la tradicional idealització dels nus. Només cal observar el llit desfet, l’habitació tancada per domassos vermells i verds, la presència de la serventa que porta un ram (homenatge d’un admirador, d’un client?), la cinta i la babutxa que donen més el sentiment d’un cos despullat que d’un cos nu.

Manet pinta aquí a Victorine amb les seves cames curtes, el seu pit petit, el seu mentó punxegut i la seva cara quadrada. Olímpia no és tant xocant pel seu tema com per la manera com aquest tema és tractat. Desconcertava perquè és una flagrant descripció dels hàbits sexuals moderns. Manet substitueix a una deessa veneciana de l’amor i la bellesa per una refinada prostituta parisenca. Però el que realment va desconcertar als crítics de l’època és que Manet no la sentimentalitza ni la idealitza, i Olímpia no sembla ni avergonyida ni insatisfeta amb el seu treball. No és una figura exòtica o pintoresca. És una dona de carn i os, presentada amb una il·luminació enlluernadora i frontal, sobre la qual el pintor mostra un pertorbador distanciament que no li permet moralitzar sobre ella.

Cabanel_manet

Per què no agradava l’Olímpia? Quines foren les raons que determinaren el rebuig i la incomprensió? Els crítics contemporanis varen considerar l’Olímpia com una pintura fallida (actualment està considerada com una de les icones més importants de l’art modern: cosa que demostra fins a quin punt canvia amb el pas del temps el que s’entén per art i per experiència estètica). De fet, no es tracta d’una pintura equivocada, sinó d’espectadors incompetents. Si els crítics únicament eren capaços de veure el tema i els aspectes formals, només podien interpretar negativament la pintura de Manet. Des del moment que el quadre fou acceptat pel jurat del Saló resulta evident que complia amb els requisits necessaris per a ser acceptada: es tractava d’un nu femení que duia un títol clàssic.

Què era, doncs, el que es feia difícil d’assimilar pels crítics? El fet d’allunyar-se de les fórmules convencionals de representar el nu; el quadre no encaixava amb el que ells esperaven de l’art. Olímpia té la posa de Venus, els atributs de Venus (el llit, la serventa, les flors), però la dona que hi ha pintada al quadre no és Venus, sinó una contemporània transvestida com Olímpia. Manet havia prescindit dels convencionalismes normals pels quals es regia la pràctica de la pintura.

En formular la pregunta: què s’hi pinta a l’Olímpia?, estem establint una distinció entre el que està pintat -els elements figuratius, la iconografia- i el que està representat -el tema de la sexualitat moderna. Preguntar-se què representa una obra és preguntar-se sobre el seu significat: què significava, per exemple, pintar una prostituta nua d’aquesta manera a la dècada del 1860, i fins a quin punt aquests significats s’estableixen en relació amb els aspectes formals de la tela. És fàcil, doncs, posar-se d’acord sobre el que està pintat, però esdevé més difícil posar-se d’acord sobre el que està representat.

Renoir_banyistes

Auguste Renoir: Les banyistes, cap el 1918-1919. Oli sobre tela. 110 x 160 cm. Musée d’Orsay, París

L’impressionisme neix amb la unió de Monet i Renoir, els quals entre 1869 i 1874 treballen junts a la riba del Sena, “en plein air”, decidits a acabar amb totes les regles d’”atelier” (perspectiva, composició, clarobscur) i a trobar una pintura que proporcioni la «impressió» visual en la seva immediatesa. Renoir serà, tanmateix, el primer a desertar, en el 78, de les exposicions del grup i cercarà l’èxit en els Salons oficials: «crec que cal fer la millor pintura possible, això és tot».

El quadre de Les banyistes és emblemàtic de les investigacions dutes a terme per Renoir, a finals de la seva vida. A partir de 1910, l’artista torna a un dels seus temes de predilecció: nus a l’aire lliure, als quals dedica rellevants quadres. Renoir celebra en ells una naturalesa atemporal, que rebutja qualsevol referència al món contemporani. Les banyistes poden ser considerades, d’aquesta manera, com el testament pictòric de Renoir, que va morir el desembre de 1919. Va ser en aquest esperit que els seus tres fills, entre ells el cineasta Jean Renoir, van donar el quadre a l’Estat el 1923.

Ambdós models estirats en el primer pla i les tres banyistes, que juguen en el fons de la composició, han posat al gran jardí plantat d’oliveres de les Collettes, la propietat del pintor en Cagnes-sud-Mer, al Sud de França. El paisatge mediterrani fa referència a la tradició clàssica d’Itàlia i de Grècia, quan «la terra era el paradís dels déus». «Vet aquí el que vull pintar», afegia Renoir. Aquesta idíl·lica visió està marcada per la sensualitat dels models, la riquesa dels colorits i la plenitud de les formes.

Les banyistes deuen molt als nus del Ticià i de Rubens, tan admirats per Renoir. Tradueixen un plaer de pintar que no han vençut ni la malaltia ni els dolors soferts pel pintor al final de la seva vida.

Aquest octubre passat un petit grup d’activistes, portant pancartes que deien «Déu odia Renoir» o «La sensibleria fa mal a la societat» es manifestava contra l’artista Pierre-Auguste Renoir a l’entrada del Museu de Belles Arts de Boston. L’organitzador de la protesta, Max Geller, exigia ​​la retirada de les sis obres del pintor impressionista que pengen a les sales d’aquesta institució i la dimissió dels comissaris responsables. Segons ell, «la sensibleria de Renoir dilueix la col·lecció del museu» i considera que la decisió d’exhibir aquests quadres és «un acte de terrorisme estètic».

La protesta, convocada des del compte d’Instagram, Renoir Sucks at Painting («la pintura de Renoir fa pudor»), tenia un caràcter irònic i merament testimonial, però ha reobert el debat sobre aquest pintor .

Què diuen els experts sobre Renoir? En general, res de bo. Especialment de la seva última etapa. Per Kenneth Baker, crític nord-americà, els seus quadres són «ensucrats» i «embafadors». Ariela Budick, experta del Financial Times, s’acarnissa especialment amb els seus retrats femenins finals, que descriu com «grotesques paròdies embolicades en vels de cotó de sucre». Tamar Garb, professora d’Història de l’Art de la University College de Londres, va més lluny i veu en aquestes dones nues el consol d’un vell verd solitari.

També els grans museus porten anys reconsiderant la qualitat dels quadres de Renoir. El Metropolitan de Nova York ha anat retirant a poc a poc de les seves sales els més criticats i el MoMA va arribar a desfer-se d’un al·legant que ja «no pertany a la història de l’art modern que volem explicar», segons va declarar el seu responsable de pintura Kirk Varnedoe.

La culpa de la vertiginosa caiguda en desgràcia de Renoir la tenen les obres que va pintar durant els últims 40 anys de la seva vida. Fins llavors havia treballat amb els impressionistes, ajudant a revolucionar la història de l’art amb obres com El gronxador o les seves escenes a la riba del Sena. Però el reconeixement trigava a arribar-li i quan va complir els 40, fart de passar penúries econòmiques, va decidir canviar el seu estil per vendre més.

Va trencar amb l’Impressionisme i va començar a pintar el que agradava als rics compradors del moment: nenes encantadores cosint, dones nues flirtant en plena natura… Li va donar resultat econòmic en vida: es va convertir en un dels artistes més rics i el Louvre o la National Gallery de Londres van començar a barallar-se pels seus quadres. No obstant això, la qualitat del seu art va caure en picat: Degas i Picasso es van burlar d’ell; i la seva antiga companya, Mary Cassat, va criticar els seus abominables quadres plens «de dones grosses enormes i vermelles amb caps petitíssims».

Pel crític d’art Christopher Knight, els cossos nus que representa a Renoir a Les banyistes «són com tubs farcits amb aire comprimit, amb pits alts i sense cap estructura òssia o musculatura sota la pell». Per a Roberta Smith, del New York Times, no són més que «dos croissants sobre un plat de vegetals».

Potser un final esperat per a un artista al que se li atribueix l’afirmació: «Jo pinto amb la polla».

 Cezanne_Olimpia

Paul Cézanne: Una moderna Olympia, 1873-1874. Oli sobre tela. 46 x 55 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Les primeres obres de Cézanne, executades en colors foscos, estaven profundament inspirades per les dels mestres antics i per les composicions de Delacroix, Daumier i Courbet. Característica d’aquest període, una pintura de 1870 ja mostrava Una Olympia moderna, en resposta a la gran tela de Manet que havia provocat un escàndol en el Saló de 1865.

Uns quants anys més tard, Cézanne aborda de nou aquest tema, però aquesta segona versió és totalment diferent pels seus colors, lluminosos i intensos, i per la seva brillant execució que recorden les pintures de Fragonard. La llum de Cézanne està llavors plena d’evolució cap a l’impressionisme. Seria durant la seva estada a Auvers-sur-Oise a casa del doctor Gachet que, en l’animació d’una discussió, el pintor s’hagués emparat del seu pinzell per crear aquest acolorit esbós.

Lliura d’aquesta manera una interpretació molt més atrevida del tema de Manet. Homenatge o paròdia a l’obra de Manet? El contrast entre la nuesa de la dona revelada per la seva serventa negra i l’elegant indumentària de l’home vestit de negre, que a més s’assembla sorprenentment a Cézanne, que la mira com a espectador, contribueix a proporcionar a l’escena un caràcter eròtic i teatral. L’efecte està encara més marcat per la presència de la cortina penjada a l’esquerra.

Una dona, estirada entre els llençols blancs del seu llit, és despullada per la seva esclava negra mentre un home assegut en un divan (un autoretrat?) contempla l’escena. Una taula de color vermell, un gat als peus del llit i un enorme gerro completen l’escena. La utilització de vives tonalitats –groc, verd, vermell, blau– i la ràpida pinzellada amb la qual ha estat aplicat el color, fins i tot amb espàtula, fan d’aquesta obra tot un manifest pictòric.

L’estranya xarada que aquí es representa era una fantasia eròtica complexa, totalment aliena a l’orientació empírica dels altres artistes que es van comprometre amb la variant impressionista de la visió realista. Una serventa negra, la filla de la criada d’Olímpia, enretira un llençol blanc de la nua Olímpia, la qual apareix encongida en una postura maldestra i fetal davant d’un client admirador. Aquest cavaller, completament vestit, amb el seu barret de copa peculiarment aïllat a la dreta com un paral·lel negre del gos que està als peus de l’enorme llit d’Olímpia, sembla una projecció psicològica de l’artista mateix, contemplant un oferiment eròtic que està representat amb una anatomia tan imperfecta que els seus grans errors en l’escorç i en la carn toscament usada només podien ser reivindicats per un artista com Cézanne.

Els crítics de 1874 van considerar a Cézanne «una mena de boig que pinta sota els efectes de delirium tremens» i van trobar en la seva obra «estranyes formes sorgides de l’haixix, preses d’un eixam de somnis lascius» assenyalant amb això tant la fantasia gairebé psicòtica de la seva obra com la seva perillosa adaptació a la pinzellada impressionista.

Les dones dels impressionistes

Tot i ser un grup reduït, els impressionistes pertanyen a un ampli espectre de classes socials i una varietat d’ambients provincians i rurals. Estudiar la seva biografia i el seu entorn professional diu molt sobre la situació a la França de 1860 a 1870 i sobre l’estatut canviant de l’artista. També un factor a tenir en compte és la manca de tradició artística de les seves famílies: cada component del grup s’estava obrint un nou camí i això li permetia certes llibertats.

Sovint se sol comentar que molts artistes i, en particular, els avantguardistes, reaccionaren contra l’autoritat dels seus mestres i contra la tradició artística. Però aquest no fou el cas d’un seguit de nouvinguts, com ara Tissot, Carolus-Duran, Julien Bastien-Lepage i Léon Bonnat, així com dels impressionistes, que es varen anar infiltrant en el sistema dels Salons i compartien els problemes i els reptes de crear els camins de les seves pròpies carreres sense precedència ni guia de la família i trobant diversos graus de desaprovació per part dels pares en el procés. L’absència de tradició familiar també va deixar als impressionistes la crucial avantatge de no tenir l’obligació de reemborsar les inversions i satisfer les expectatives dels seus pares.

Claude Monet havia nascut a París però era un provincià que va créixer a la costa de Normandia. Va arribar a París com a estudiant el 1859 i va establir una estreta amistat amb Bazille a mitjans de la dècada de 1860. Procedia d’una burgesia comercial: el seu pare posseïa una pròspera cereria a L’Havre, el port del canal de la Manxa en plena expansió a la desembocadura del Sena. Els estudis de Monet no els va finançar el seu pare, sinó la seva tia vídua, Sophie Lecadre.

Camille Pissarro procedia d’una família que havia fet la seva fortuna a les Índies Occidentals daneses –va néixer i es va criar a l’illa de Sant Tomàs– i així va estar vinculat al comerç colonial. Era, doncs, també un nouvingut al París del 1850. És l’únic membre jueu del grup.

Alfred Sisley era parisenc de naixement però fill de britànics. El seu pare, William, havia creat un negoci d’importació i exportació d’articles de luxe, com guants i va poder finançar sense problemes els estudis del seu fill al començament de la dècada de 1860.

Auguste Renoir tenia un origen artesà i anava escàs de recursos. El seu pare, sastre a Llemotges, el 1845 havia dut a París a la seva família, bastant nombrosa, a la recerca de millors perspectives. Renoir tenia pensat guanyar-se la vida en una de les arts aplicades –de fet es va formar com a pintor de porcellana– fins que també va començar a aspirar a les belles arts, i les seves mires es van elevar a causa de la forta pressió que van exercir els seus companys estudiants, entre ells Monet. L’actitud de Renoir per guanyar-se la vida com a pintor va ser pragmàtica. Sempre va ser el més preparat per a moderar el seu estil i, en cas de necessitat, comprometre les seves creences artístiques per tal d’agradar a un client, en particular quan estava en joc l’encàrrec d’un retrat. En conseqüència, la qualitat de la seva obra és variable.

Frédéric Bazille havia nascut a Montpeller, al Llenguadoc, on el seu pare, Gaston, un agricultor, vinicultor i destacat dignatari local, el 1867 es va convertir en professor d’institut. Va donar al seu fill fons suficients perquè el jove artista participés de manera total en la vida cultural de París, estudiés a un seguit de tallers i oferís una certa quantitat d’ajuda, financera i pràctica, als seus amics menys adinerats. Si no hagués mort en la guerra franco-prussiana, hauria tingut el seu lloc al costat dels seus amics a l’exposició impressionista de 1874.

Paul Cézanne era natural d’Ais de Provença, i cridava una mica l’atenció en la distingida societat urbana pel seu marcat accent, els seus modals toscs i les seves emocions, de vegades violentes. El seu pare era un burgès de ciutat provinciana que havia fet la seva fortuna amb molta rapidesa en canviar el negoci dels barrets per la banca. A Jas de Bouffan, la casa de camp que havia comprat fora d’Ais de Provença, la vida era una mica rígida i solitària. Atès que no estava disposat a sotmetre’s a l’estricta disciplina de la casa dels pares i fer la carrera de dret que el seu pare havia projectat per a ell, Cézanne va marxar a París en 1861. Tot i que el seu pare desaprovava la carrera artística del seu fill, el va anar finançant

Berthe Morisot nascuda en el si d’una família vinculada a l’art (era besnéta del pintor Jean-Honoré Fragonard), passà la seva infantesa a Bourges, ciutat on el seu pare havia estat destinat com a prefecte del departament de Cher. L’any 1852 es traslladaren a París, on aviat prengué classes de dibuix juntament amb les seves germanes Yvette i Edma, amb qui practicava la còpia dels grans mestres del Louvre. El seu primer mestre fou Henri Fantin-Latour i més endavant entrà en contacte amb Édouard Manet. A partir de 1861 Berthe i Edma van rebre el mestratge de Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot.

Edgar Degas provenia d’una família de banquers –el seu pare era Auguste de Gas, descendent d’una noble família bretona que va emigrar a Nàpols arran la Revolució Francesa, i la seva mare, Célestine Musson, que va morir quan ell tenia tretze anys, era originària de Nova Orleans i la seva família es dedicava a la producció de cotó– que vivia a Itàlia. Els lligams amb els Estats Units –hi va anar el 1872-73– el varen posar en contacte amb l’artista de Filadèlfia Mary Cassatt, l’origen familiar de classe mitjana alta de la qual era similar al seu.

Una altra característica que unia i donava forma a les vides i les carreres de la major part dels artistes masculins que formaven part del grup dels impressionistes és el fet que es casaven amb dones inferiors a ells en l’escala social, de manera que perdien el suport dels seus pares. Tot i que els processos industrials, el comerç colonial i la urbanització estaven tenint un impacte cada vegada més gran en la mobilitat social, l’antic concepte del matrimoni concertat de cap manera havia desaparegut. La persistència d’aquesta tradició, originada en els interessos econòmics i de classe, era comprensible: permetia als pares assegurar la continuïtat i la custòdia de les fortunes de les famílies. En seguir carreres artístiques i casar-se fora del seu medi, els impressionistes de fet s’aïllaven dels seus orígens i la seva classe.

Claude Monet va conèixer a la seva futura dona Camille Doncieux, una costurera de Batignolles que es va convertir en el seu model, el 1865. Les seves relacions eren ja un fet consumat en l’època en què ell va tractar de presentar-la al seu cercle familiar. La notícia que ella ja estava embarassada va ser, sens dubte, un cop per al seu pare, amb qui no mantenia bones relacions, i va posar en perill el suport econòmic que només la seva tia havia decidit continuar. Tot i la manca d’independència econòmica de Monet i l’oposició del seu pare al matrimoni, es van casar el 1870, moment en què el seu fill gran, Jean, ja tenia tres anys. Obtenir diners de les vendes era una necessitat urgent per Monet fins i tot abans que s’afegís la complicació d’una dona i un fill a mantenir. Monet –molt sovint- va demanar ajut econòmic a Bazille i a Caillebotte.

La família de Bazille havia fet diversos intents per aparellar-lo amb una noia apropiada, però en el moment de la seva mort, just als vint anys, seguia sense estar promès.

Se suposava que Camille Pissarro, un burgès jueu ben criat, trobaria una dona del seu nivell social. Però es va enamorar de Julie Vellay, una camperola de Borgonya, a qui va conèixer quan treballava com a ajudant del cuiner de la família. Tant per motius socials com religiosos, el matrimoni va trobar l’oposició dels pares, dels que encara depenia econòmicament, especialment de la seva mare, Rachel, que va condemnar a Julie a l’ostracisme. Potser va ser en part per aquest motiu que van decidir viure al camp, encara que no massa lluny de París.

Alfred Sisley i la seva companya de tota la vida, Eugénie Lescouezec, una humil florista sense diners diversos anys més gran que ell, van contreure matrimoni formal el 1897 durant una estada a Gal·les del Sud, quan els dos eren ja malalts terminals, un matrimoni completament inadequat als ulls del seu pare. Ja que encara conservava la nacionalitat britànica, tot i que mai havia residit fora de França, li va resultar més senzill casar-se per les lleis del Regne Unit, i així assegurava la futura herència dels seus dos fills.

Durant anys, Cézanne no es va atrevir a revelar al seu pare l’existència de la seva amant Hortense Fiquet, a qui va conèixer el 1869, una model de l’artista, i molt menys la notícia del naixement del seu fill Paul el 1872. Tanmateix, el seu pare va començar a sospitar i, per fi, va afrontar la situació. No es van casar fins el 1886, pocs mesos abans de la mort del seu pare, quan se suposa que Cézanne ja sabia que rebria l’herència.

Renoir va ser un dels últims membres del grup que va decidir casar-se (el 1890) i, un cop més, amb una jove el nivell social de la qual era diferent del seu, Aline Charigot, una jove que va arribar a la ciutat des del seu poble natal d’Essoyes, a la regió de Champagne, a la recerca de treball, i era costurera. Ell tenia gairebé quaranta anys i ella dinou quan es van conèixer.

La regularitat d’aquest model de matrimoni fa pensar que una afirmació d’independència en termes artístics sembla també haver portat implícita una ruptura amb els precedents dels pares i l’adopció d’actituds poc ortodoxes per la tradició familiar. El seu estil de vida, centrat en el taller i en la seva carrera els apartava del mercat del matrimoni burgès. En lloc de conèixer i festejar noies burgeses, cultes i de la seva pròpia classe, les seves relacions a llarg termini tendien a desenvolupar-se a partir de trobades casuals en els carrers i el taller. La relació que Émile Zola inventa entre l’artista Claude Lantier i la model Christine a L’obra, la novel·la que li va inspirar el seu contacte amb els impressionistes, sembla en gran part estereotípica.

Per què, doncs, tants impressionistes es casaven amb dones de classe inferior? Es pot pensar que era una qüestió d’elecció. O per la vida bohèmia que portaven. Potser el vincle essencial entre Camille Doncieux, Julie Vellay, Hortense Fiquet, Eugénie Lescouezec i Aline Charigot eren les seves humils expectatives. Totes elles eren dones competents, enginyoses i treballadores, que no només podien fer de models, sinó que eren capaços de donar un cop de mà en una quantitat de tasques sense exigir sortides regulars a l’òpera, als balls d’etiqueta o esperar com Mette Gad – la culta i burgesa dona danesa de Gauguin– robes de moda, criats i bones escoles per als fills. Els impressionistes necessitaven esposes que poguessin fer front a les incerteses de la vida artística, tot i que, probablement, van menysprear aquesta vida.

I què s’esdevingué amb les dones impressionistes?

Molt s’ha dit de l’enamorament pel que sembla mutu entre Manet i Berthe Morisot; però el fet que Manet estava casat i les dues famílies eren íntimes per cap de les dues parts es va atrevir a trencar les convencions burgeses de respectabilitat. El 1874, quan tenia trenta-tres anys i ja es considerava una solterona, Berthe, es va casar amb Eugène, el germà menor de Manet. Va ser una unió pràctica, racional, de suport mutu, que ambdues famílies van encoratjar (en particular el propi Édouard Manet), doncs, en Eugène, Berthe va trobar a l’home que tenia la riquesa, el temps lliure i el gust per donar suport a la seva carrera. L’altre destacat membre femení del grup, Mary Cassatt, va seguir sent una conca i va dedicar els seus afectes al seu cercle familiar immediat, que es va reunir amb ella a Europa; gaudia de més llibertat per viatjar i conèixer gent, cosa que li estava negada a Berthe Morisot, la vida social de la qual se centrava al voltant de casa.

Tot plegat palesa les limitacions de l’emancipació social i de la dona a la França de finals del segle XIX i la doble taula de valors que continuava imperant. Algunes reunions, per exemple, eren exclusivament masculines; encara que en aparença acceptades com a iguals, les col·legues de classe mitjana dels impressionistes portaven vides molt diferents i molt més restringides. Morisot mai va aparèixer pel Cafè Guerbois o la Nouvelle Athenes, ni es té notícia que hagi estat inclosa en els sopars dels impressionistes al Cafè Riche. Amiga íntima de Mallarmé, a qui, després de la mort del seu espòs, va nomenar tutor de la seva filla Julie, mai va assistir a les reunions del dimarts a la nit on un grup de poetes estudiants homes escoltaven a Mallarmé llegint una conferència.

A la dècada de 1870 els impressionistes estaven units pel propòsit de pintar la vida moderna, una versió específica, intimista, restringida i subjectiva de la vida moderna. En aquesta tasca, les persones amb qui es van casar o van viure i els fills que van engendrar hi exerciren un paper central.

[1] Jaqueline Rose (2006). Sexuality in the Field of Vision. Londres/Nova York. Verso. 3ª ed. Pàg. 227

[2] Berger, John (2012). Modos de ver. Barcelona. Gustavo Gili. 4ª ed. 9ª impr. Pàg. 27

[3] Rozsica Parker i Griselda Pollock (1995). Old Mistresses. Ontario. Pandora Press. Pàg.116.

[4] Thimothy J. Clark (1999). The Painting of Modern Life. Nova Jersei. Princeton University Press. Pàg. 92.

Belinda Thomson (2001). El impresionismo. Orígenes, pràctica y acogida. Barcelona. Destino. 272 pàgs.

Eisenmann, Stephen F. … [et al.] (2001). Historia crítica del arte del siglo XIX. Tres Cantos. Ed. Akal. (Col. Akal/arte y estética). 418 pàgs.

Linda Nochlin: «El arte y la cuestión de género» a Eisenmann, Stephen F. … [et al.], pp. 270-287.

Tamar Grab: «Género y representación» a Eisenmann, Stephen F. … [et al.], pp. 223-234.

El museu d’Orsay: una mirada en clau de gènere

Dr. Joan Campàs Montaner jcampas@uoc.edu
Estudis d’Arts i Humanitats

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  48. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  49. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  50. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  51. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  52. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  53. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  54. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  55. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  56. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  57. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

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  97. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  98. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  99. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  100. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  101. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  102. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  103. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  104. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  105. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

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  155. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  156. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

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  165. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  166. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  167. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  168. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  169. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  170. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  171. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  172. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  173. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  174. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  175. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

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  197. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

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  199. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  200. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

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  202. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  203. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  204. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  205. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

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