Walter Sickert’s Music-Hall Scenes and Theatricality of Modern Experience
Ming-Tsuey Ni, Ph.D.

Most studies, regarding Walter Sickert as a dispassionate flâneur, have focused on the significance of social realism and criticism in his music-hall scenes. Previous studies have also tended to analyze his formal and technical mastery and his role as a major forerunner of modern British art. This article attempts to consider Sickert?s works of music halls from another point of view, arguing that his connection of the artificiality of painting with that of performance is a metaphor for the theatricality of modern experience. With the use of mirrors and theatrical devices, Sickert?s music hall is frequently represented in such an ambiguous perspective that the spatial relationship between the performer and audience is confused. The perplexities and deception of the painted surfaces further turn the identities of the audience and performer into uncertainty. Theatricality transcended the reality of everyday life, but it also threatened the Victorian belief in the truthfulness of truth and the true self. Through a series of London music-hall paintings, Sickert disclosed social and cultural concerns of the period. Just like the theatricality of performances, these paintings, with their disoriented vision and form, reveal the essential in authenticity of urban, modern experience and the complexity and uncertainty of identity.

Full Text: PDF       DOI: 10.15640/ijaah.v8n2a2