Sailboat at le Petit Gennevilliers”


Claude Monet. "Sailboat at le Petit Gennevilliers" 1874. Oil on canvas.
Claude Monet. “Sailboat at le Petit Gennevilliers” 1874. Oil on canvas.


Sorry for the brief hiatus – its the holiday season and we all know how busy that can be! I was sitting here prepping for my class at Cal Baptist tonight, re-reading my lecture on this strange idea of Heterotopias by the infamous Parisian theorist Michel Foucault. In a very small nutshell – the concept of  Heteroptopias is that society creates specific spaces to function within, and each of these types of spaces have their own criteria for existence.

Now I know this doesn’t have much to do with Monet’s painting -but it is the example I use when we discuss the heterotopia of the sail boat. Foucault puts it quite eloquently:

“Brothels and colonies are two extreme types of heterotopia, and if we think, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack, from brothel to brothel, it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why the boat has not only been for our civilization, from the sixteenth century until the present, the great instrument of economic development (I have not been speaking of that today), but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.”

I’m not sure there is anyone who could visually describe such a space with the same beauty and planned recklessness that Monet does here!



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