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February 27, 2006 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Art To Know For Dinner Party Conversations

Edouard Manet

I’ve heard you like boxed texts dear reader. So every week I’m going to explain an important piece of art from the annals of art history so that you can all impress your friends.

This week we are looking at Edouard Manet’s famous painting, Olympia. This work caused a bit of a hoohaa when it was first exhibited in 1863, and was slated by critics and the viewing public alike. This was because instead of painting soft focus nudes in an allegorical or classical style, Manet stayed true to his realist philosophy and painted this modern courtesan in a clearly lit and authentic manner. This woman, so obviously and unashamedly a prostitute, doesn’t flutter her eyes beguilingly out of the picture, as was the tradition, but challenges the viewer with her forthright stare.

All of this was a bit too close to home for the Parisian public at the time, who liked their nudes gamboling in mythical meadows. But history has, as is often the case, redeemed Manet, who is now a seminal figure in art history. Some art historians credit this painting as the starting point of modernism. They see the dark background of the work as calling attention to the painting’s flatness and the limits of its own medium. Thus Olympia is seen by some as primarily art about art, an integral modernist obsession.


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (7)

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  1. See! Olympia is every where.

  2. Leo says:

    I dont know but why i don find such informative and profitable blogs so often,I suspect blogging world is becoming so small that we cant find such lucrative blogs like this one.

  3. Alisya says:

    I suspect that’s thereason general public want to read blog….Internet visitors generally create blogs to declare themselves or their secret views. Blog grant them same matter on the monitor screen what they specifically needed,so as the above stuffs declared it.

  4. David law says:

    Accordingly, there exists a need in the relevant art to provide a method of facilitating, generating, or promoting conversation and discussion among dining partners.

  5. Bernard says:

    it’s not a blog, you stupid

  6. MORE COCKS says:






  7. hairy says:

    ya rite but some times its not work yaar. Give me some more info

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