Monday, April 1, 2013

The Lunch that Made Critics Lose Theirs

1/25/13:  The Lunch that made Critics Lose Theirs

                Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, Edouard Manet

                This work caused quite an uproar, and deservedly should be spoken of.  In one stroke, Manet managed to become the first to play with what it really meant to look, while also helping redefine artist-critic roles.  The painting depicts a nude women eating lunch with two clothed men, who could be artists using her as a model. Most of the colors are drab, except for those that frame and highlight the naked woman in the forefront.  This serves to show that she is the focal point the artist has in mind.  What really drove everyone crazy was that she lies naked and unashamed (as a female), and looks directly at the viewer as if to say, “What?”  For her to be so unabashed in her nudity in front of the presumably male viewer was both astonishing and an outrage to the artist community.  On top of that, Manet has given the background an impressionistic touch, leaving most of it very abstract.  This also served to infuriate critics, who deemed the work unfinished.  The work itself was rejected by the Salon of 1863, but Manet chose to use this as a painting in his 1863 Salon de Refuses, which struck a blow to the art critics by saying “My work is finished when I say it is.”

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