Monday, 18 November 2013

Painting of Modern Life Week Four

Women and the art of the Impressionists,

Reading Olympia and the Bar at the Folies Bergere

Olympia, Eduard Manet 1863; Oil on canvas, 130.5 x 190 cm (51 3/8 x 74 3/4 in) Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Victorine Meurent (1844-1927). 
Manet in Love (click here for TRAILER
Also V.R. Main The Naked Truth

Note : Art historian TJ Clark attempted a thorough-going survey of all the critical responses to the painting’s 1863 appearance. His chapter “Olympia’s Choice” sets out to map the terms of the critics’ discomfort citing the apparent identification of Olympia as a prostitute as a starting point. Clark points out that images of prostitutes were not unknown nor were they necessarily subject to public outrage. His reading of original French sources suggests that prostitution was identified with anxieties of invasion by the lower orders coinciding with the modernisation of Paris. Clark argued that Manet’s painting failed to conform to the conventions of disguise whereby the phenomenon was hinted at and the viewer made to feel safe. Resistance to Clark’s identification of the naked model with her class, rather than her gender, inspired a number of feminist writers to explore this area highlighting the depiction of gender in the work of Manet and his contemporaries.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère 1882 Manet, Edouard
Oil on canvas height: 96 cm (canvas); width 130 cm (canvas) ; height 134.1 cm (frame); width: 170.6 cm (frame); depth: 17cm (frame) Inscription Signed on the wine bottle label at bottom left, Manet / 1882

Philip Pullman on A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Click here.

When his bathing nudes were shown at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1886 Mirabeau claimed: “There is a ferocity here which speaks loudly of disdain for women and horror of love…” The critic Hermel came to Degas’s defence: “The only way of being moral in art is by painting well. What really is immoral and despicable is duping people with intentions that are cunningly sentimental and discreetly pornographic.” (La France Libre May 1886.)

Clark TJ (1984 revised 1999) The Painting of Modern Life. Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers, Thames and Hudson, London. Esp Chaps two and Four.
Pollock G (1988, 2003) Vision and Difference: Feminism, Femininity and Histories of Art (Routledge Classics) Esp. Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity.
Thomson B (2000) Impressionism Origins, Practices, Reception, Thames and Hudson World of Art, London. Esp pages 178-188.
Armstrong C (2002) Manet Manette, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

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