You must recognize this painting.
It’s Edouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass. Manet is considered one of the forefathers of Classical Modern art. He’s a general badass. When he showed this painting at the Salon des Refusès in Paris, people were pissed. Any art magazine or book will tell you that they were “shocked”, but that’s diplomatic jargon for just plain angry and appalled.
The reason? Well, one of them is that she’s starting at you. She’s blatantly nude, and she’s lunching with two fully clothed men, and she’s staring at you. It’s sort of startling.
The problem wasn’t that she was nude. Nudity has been in fashion forever, but usually it’s minus eye contact. That’s what makes people squirm. Add in the fact that she’s totally okay with being nude around two black clothed men, and you’ve got shock value. Go, Manet!
The painting is actually quite large, which added to it’s ability to cause outrage, because it’s easy to ignore a painting if it’s not there, in your face- but it’s hard to ignore a large nude woman staring at you, isn’t it?
Manet didn’t just shock- he also awed. His quick brush strokes are amazing, and the vitality in his color choice and composition is fantastic. It’s obvious that he cared about what he was painting, but that it was also very deft and quick- an exact science.
The Dead Matador showcases how I felt all finals and midterms week this last year. Accurate and to the point.
Edouard Manet, ladies and gentlemen.
One of my favorites.