Art history neoclassicism to realism

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Art history neoclassicism to realism

Nudity vs Nakedness

The nude figure is the most volatile subject in the history of painting The artists treatment of the nude dictates whether her gaze addresses the viewer with a coy obliqueness or a confrontational directness The figure has the ability to condemn invite and often perform both simultaneously Through the viewers inverted projection an immediate response to nudity the nude figure attains the ability to undress us The vulnerability and splendor of nudity is that in its elemental form with no adornment or intention it is looked upon with grace and beauty but the moment that it dallies on the line of effortful pleasure it will be seen in the opposite light Even today certain nude photos in the culturally appropriated context are appreciated as art whereas pornographic images are viewed tactlessly and cheaply The reclining nudes contentiousness can be charted from Cabanels Venus to Manets Olympia through the writers Zola Clark and Castagnary They argue that it is the context that demarcates the crucial difference of acceptable and refutable works of nudity and explain that these artists most notably Manet disobey traditional conformity by being able to belong to multiple facets of prostitution therefore in essence not belonging to any singular categorization

To preface my explication on Manets Olympia Ill first give some background Edouard Manet was born on January 29 1832 He was well educated but showed a great liking toward drawing and the arts His Uncle Charles Fournier encouraged Manets appreciation for the arts and often took him and his friend Antonin Proust on outings to the Louvre In 1850 Manet entered the studio of Thomas Couture and studied there until 1856 During this time Paris began its massive transformation of the city under the supervision of Baron Haussmann Haussmanns revitalization affected the physical environment of Paris as well as the cultural and social atmosphere Thousands of jobs were created stores redesigned and buildings torn down and redeveloped All of this happened to try to make Paris the most beautiful and cultural city in the world This idea of change might have prompted Manets decision to paint his Olympia so boldly naked But I believe the answer lies in the artists lifelong illhealth it was in fact Manet himself suffered the physical pain from which he suffered on a daily basis was the result of a syphilic virus contracted during one of his aforementioned youthful encounters a misconception which haunted the artist throughout his life Taking this point into consideration one must therefore consider the psychological effects that Manets own feelings of guilt and regret concerning the cause of his illness and consider the effects that it had upon his life and his work and thus in turn the way in which those feelings influenced his view of women as a whole but particularly those of illrepute

Although he has been hailed as the first modern painter Manet was inspired by the great tradition of artists like Giorgione Titian Velazquez and Raphael whom the PreRaphaelites had rejected For example Olympia 1863 is undoubtedly based on Renaissance works and shows his reexamination of old masters where as traditionally nude figures were always depicted in classical settings or as goddesses details like the choker and shoes of the subject of this painting make it clear she is a contemporary courtesan Also she does not have the typical demure slightly coy expression the public would expect but instead looks straight out of the painting in a matter of fact challenging manner which would be shocking and considered unacceptable at this time This painting also shows Spanish influences and was described by a critic as a crazy piece of Spanish madness due to the way the figure seems to be asserting a powerful physical presence This idea of a powerful female figure was possibly inspired by the Spanish ballet troop who performed at the Hippodrome in Paris starring a woman calle

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