Thursday, April 21, 2011

Let's Get All Artsy Up In Here

In college, I took both Art History 1 and 2.
What do I remember from it?  1: That I was awful at finding the Point of Perspective in classic paintings, 2: All the subjects in Flemish paintings look sickly, and 3: The best artwork title and artist name combo is "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Heironymus Bosh. I probably would have walked away with a lot more knowledge of art had the class not been at 8 a.m. and had I not been hungover most of the time.
So, to make up for my college art transgressions, I'm going to go over something that I'm pretty sure confuses a few non art buffs: The difference between Monet and Manet....aside from and "o" and an "a."
Here's the super quick answer- they were friends and contemporaries; both are French and both are considered Impressionists...except Manet kind of started the Impressionist movement while Monet jumped in and perfected it. Monet mainly painted landscapes and flowers and is known for his work, "Water Lilies." He died at the age of 86 surrounded by his wife and family. Manet painted whores and died at the age of 51 from syphilis..
So, let's talk about Manet (what, did you actually think I would talk about the guy who painted flowers and didn't have syphilis?)
More, specifically, let's talk about what many consider to be his masterpiece, "Olympia."
Believe it or not, this painting was considered VERY controversial at the time and caused a major scandal in the art world? Why? Because she's naked? Not quite. Nudes, of course, have been around forever and people were cool with seeing the nude female form...in the right way. But, it was how this nude was portrayed that got everyone in a tizzy. See, this painting is supposed to be reminiscent of Titian's (hey, I mentioned him in the last blog post) Venus de Umbria. But, instead of focusing on Venus, the woman in this painting is a courtesan (aka hooker). How do we know that? Well, there are some clues that give it away. Traditional Venus paintings would have a non-direct stare that looked slightly and coyly away from the viewer. The woman in this painting is staring directly at the viewer with an expression that says "What the hell do you want?" Also, she is wearing a bracelet and choker. Jewelry, on an otherwise naked body, meant "prostitute" in late 1800's France, apparently. And, let's not forget about the orchid in her hair. At the time an orchid, and an orchid in the hair none-the-less, was a symbol of overt sexuality. That Manet had the audacity to reference a classic work of art, but use the image of a prostitute- I'm sorry "courtesan"- instead of a goddess, was appalling for audiences at the time. In fact, when the painting was displayed at the Paris Salon in 1865, people demanded that it be destroyed.
But, guess who help save the painting from outraged demise? Our old buddy Monet. That's right "Water Lily" guy saw the painting's brilliance and petitioned on behalf of his friend, Manet.

So, there's the quick rundown of Manet's "Olympia." Want the necklace? You can get it here, scandal free: http://www.etsy.com/listing/72529104/edouard-manet-olympia-necklace-resin . Use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off:)

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog...as always. And I love my necklace and bow! =)
    Ida Claire

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