Acrobat from the Folies-Bergère

Designed for the Courtauld’s Leon Kossoff Learning Centre by Amber, Barbara, Hannah, Kanar, Lily, Lily, Mimi and Remi, ages 16–18
In collaboration with artist Jeremy Deller

Powder-coated steel, emulsion paint on dowel, nylon thread

The inspiration for this artwork can be found in the top left-hand corner of Manet’s painting. The metal legs and trapeze bring a daring aspect of 19th-century performance into our world. Pioneered by acrobat Jules Léotard in 1859 (yes, the same person who invented the leotard!), trapeze acts drew crowds to music halls like the Folies-Bergère. Acrobatics became a means for working-class women to achieve independence. Does Manet’s barmaid wish she was up there too?

The idea with this work was to provoke a sense of surprise and intrigue as the original painting does so well. The use of a black silhouette was inspired by Hannah’s research into the shadow puppet performances that took place in a similar Paris venue in the late 1800s.

An identical set of legs hang from the ceiling of our Leon Kossoff Learning Centre.