Manet Porträt Kinderbildnis Blick Schwelle

Auf der Schwelle der Zeit als Druckversion (PDF mit Abb. u. Fn. 122 KB)

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Auf der Schwelle der Zeit
(Édouard Manet: Kinderbildnis, 1862)

in: Unter vier Augen. Sprachen des Porträts, Ausstellungskatalog Staatliche
Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Bielefeld/Berlin 2013, S. 258-263.

„Es ist möglich, dass Ernest heute noch lebt: doch wo? wie? welch ein Roman!“ Mit diesen Worten begleitet Roland Barthes in seinem Fotografie-Essay Die helle Kammer André Kertész’ Bild eines kleinen Jungen, der uns direkt in die Augen sieht. Bei allen Unterschieden zwischen Fotografie und Malerei sowie dem Unterschied, dass der von Manet porträtierte Junge heute keinesfalls mehr lebt – Barthes’ Kommentar zu Kertész’ Bild erfasst in prägnanter Weise auch die Anmutung von Manets Porträt. Denn Barthes’ Emphase ist die Reaktion auf den rückhaltlosen Blick, der uns über den Abgrund von Raum und Zeit hinweg trifft, und an dem entscheidend ist, dass es derjenige eines Kindes ist. Aus der Vergangenheit erreicht uns ein Blick, der in die Zukunft gerichtet ist – eine Zukunft, die nicht nur der Betrachter des Bildes, sondern auch das Kind nicht kennt.
Wer ist das von Manet gemalte Kind? Auf die Spur seiner Identität führt die Widmung, die das Gemälde einer Mme h. (?) Lange zueignet. Sie legt nahe, im Dargestellten den Sohn jener adressierten Mme Lange zu erkennen, und tatsächlich verkehrten die Manets mit einer Familie dieses Namens. Der Vater des Kindes wäre demnach Daniel Adolphus Lange, ein Mitglied der Kommission, die den Bau des Suezkanals vorantrieb. Genaueres ließ sich trotz Recherchen nicht in Erfahrung bringen, noch nicht einmal, um welchen der Lange-Söhne es sich handelt. Diese biografische Ungewissheit erschwert auch die Datierung des Gemäldes, das nun aufgrund stilistischer Argumente den frühen 1860er Jahren zugeordnet wird. Der eminente Rang von Manets Porträt folgt also nicht aus der Prominenz des Jungen, sondern allein aus der stupenden Qualität des Gemäldes selbst.
Den vielleicht fünfjährigen Jungen malte Manet in Lebensgröße, was das Bildnis zugleich monumental und klein erscheinen lässt. Breitbeinig, den vorderen Arm leicht angewinkelt, steht er in der Mitte des Bildes. Bei strikt frontaler Ausrichtung von Füßen und Kopf hat er die Hüfte und den Oberkörper geringfügig ins Dreiviertelprofil weggedreht, was dem ruhigen Stehen Spannung und dem flächigen Körper eine gewisse Raumtiefe verleiht. Bekleidet ist er mit einem graubraunen, ins Grüne spielenden Anzug aus Kniebundhose und Paletot, kombiniert mit hohen grauen Gamaschen. Der schwere Stoff umhüllt den kleinen Körper so vollständig, dass er als Physiognomie darunter verschwindet. Die Farben der Kleidung kehren wieder in den leicht gewellten Haaren, die die Symmetrie der ernsten Gesichtszüge zumindest ein wenig auflockern. Dasselbe Farbspektrum, in ein helleres Braun gewendet, behält Manet auch für den Umraum bei, womit die nebelschwadengleiche Umgebung zum Echoraum des Jungen wird – ein Effekt, den die helle Zone hinter dem Kopf des Jungen noch verstärkt. In der Kopfpartie steigern sich die Kontraste. Dem weißen Hemdkragen antwortet ein aureolenartiger Hut aus einem Schwarz, das Manet wie eine strahlende Farbe zu inszenieren weiß und das auch die großen Augen des Jungen leuchten lässt. Im Gesicht mit seinen großen Ohren, das plastischer ausgearbeitet ist als jede andere Stelle im Bild, findet sich endlich auch ein Anflug von Buntwerten, mit denen Manet ansonsten geizt. Lediglich das ziegelrote Zaumzeug, das der Junge unschlüssig in der Hand hält, als hätte er vergessen, weswegen er es bei sich trägt, bringt einen zweiten Farbakzent ins Bild, der mit den Rosatönen des Gesichts konkurrieren kann.
Manets Porträt prägt eine auf verschiedenen Ebenen sich aufbauende Spannung zwischen Bestimmtheit und Unbestimmtheit. Da ist zunächst die unebenmäßige malerische Ausführung. Zwischen der Präzision der Augenpartie und dem lediglich Hingeworfenen der Gamaschen, des Zaumzeugs oder der fast hinter die Hüfte zurückgezogenen Hand klaffen Unterschiede, als gehöre das alles nicht zu derselben Figur. Bestimmt-unbestimmt ist weiterhin die Art und Weise, wie der Junge vor uns tritt. So selbstbewusst die eingenommene Haltung ist, so offen bleibt der Ort, an dem sich sein Auftritt vollzieht. Manet löst die Figur aus jedem Zusammenhang, sodass wir nicht einmal sagen können, ob sie sich in einem Innen- oder Außenraum aufhält, ja selbst die Standfläche ist durch den fleckartigen Schattenwurf lediglich vage markiert. In diesem Nicht-Raum ist der Junge so weit nach vorne getreten, dass es insbesondere in der oberen Bildhälfte so wirkt, als stünde er weniger im als vielmehr vor dem Bild. Einen solchen Ort gibt es nur in der Malerei – womit eine der Differenzen zu Kertész’ Bild benannt ist: Le petit Lange steht auf der Schwelle zwischen Bildraum und Betrachterraum, keinem der beiden Räume ganz zugehörig. Sein Standort bleibt genauso unfassbar wie die Oberfläche des Gemäldes selbst. Für diese gilt ebenfalls, weder zum Bildraum noch zum Raum des Betrachters zu gehören, sondern jene ungreifbare Grenze zu sein, an der beide sich berühren. Die Grenze zwischen Bildraum und Betrachterraum, auf der sich der Junge aufhält, wird von Manet dadurch akzentuiert, dass sie von beiden Seiten her überschritten wird. Aus dem Bild heraus führt der Blick des Jungen; ins Bild hinein indes führt das Licht, das den Jungen frontal aus jenem Raum heraus beleuchtet, in dem der Betrachter steht – so als sei es, wie Michel Foucault die Parallelität von Betrachterblick und Lichtführung auf den Punkt brachte, der Blick des Betrachters, der die Figur beleuchte.
Zwischen Bestimmtheit und Unbestimmtheit aber schillert insbesondere dasjenige, worauf in Manets Gemälde alles zuläuft: der Blick. Dieser ist ebenso unverwandt wie unfokussiert – was auch daran liegt, dass die Sehachsen der beiden Augen leicht voneinander abweichen. Worauf ist er gerichtet? Die Antwort, es sei der ihn porträtierende Maler, relativiert sich durch seine Stummheit, die nicht auf eine Interaktion zwischen zwei Menschen hindeuten will. Ebenso plausibel wäre zu sagen, dieser Blick richte sich gar nicht auf ein Äußeres, sondern sei vielmehr nach innen gerichtet. Der Umraum wird nicht nur aufgrund der Farben und der Valeurs zum Echoraum des Jungen; in seiner Untiefe hallt auch das Unauslotbare dieses Blicks wider. Und während Manets Bildraum in seinen Dimensionen vage bleibt, dehnt sich der Augenblick, in dem der Junge erfasst ist, zu unbestimmter Dauer. Das füllige Gesicht und die herausfordernde Haltung lassen jedoch keinen Zweifel an der Lebendigkeit dieses Jungen aufkommen, was sich auf die Art und Weise auswirkt, wie diese Abwesenheit vom Hier und Jetzt erscheint. In ihr manifestiert sich keine Blässe oder Schwäche, sondern Eigensinnigkeit. Le petit Lange ist nicht ganz ‚da‘, weil er ganz bei sich ist.
Viele der von Manet gemalten Menschen treten in einer vergleichbaren Weise vor uns. Doch bei einem Kind gewinnt diese mehrfache – räumliche, zeitliche und psychische – Schwellensituation einen besonderen Charakter. Im Blick der Erwachsenen scheinen Kinder ganz in der Gegenwart aufzugehen und dennoch im Licht einer Zukunft zu stehen, auf die sie gerichtet sind. Diese Zukunft, in die Le petit Lange blickt und von der her er beleuchtet wird, liegt außerhalb dessen, was das Bild uns zu sehen gibt. Was ist aus dem Jungen geworden? Welches Leben hat er geführt? Welch ein Roman!

Auf der Schwelle der Zeit als Druckversion (PDF mit Abb. u. Fn. 122 KB)

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