Bella Vida by Letty

Inspiration from Rebel Artist Manet

“I need to work to feel well.” Edouard Manet
Le déjeuner sur l'herbe or The Luncheon on the Grass originally titled "Le Bain" (The Bath) is an oil on canvas painting by Édouard Manet created in 186
Le déjeuner sur l’herbe or The Luncheon on the Grass originally titled “Le Bain” (The Bath) is an oil on canvas painting by Édouard Manet created in 1862

Manet has popped up twice in my life this week.  When the universe speaks I will listen. The first was a very well done and quite interesting biography on French painter Edouard Manet by the BBC on Ovation TV.

Manet was considered a radical in his time for abandoning the techniques taught to him in school and inventing his own. As a result he was harshly criticized and mocked by both the general public and art critics of his time. Today Manet is considered the father of Impressionism.

Manet is amazing to me for expressing total artistic freedom.  First by not conforming to the methods of his day and second the subjects he tackled.  The subliminal messages in his works expose the hypocritical norms, practices and dictated norms of society forcing the viewer to question exactly why it is they’re offended.

You’ve heard the phrase and especially when it comes to art that nothing is original.  It is said that Le déjeuner sur l’herbe was inspired by the Italian Renaissance painter Titian which you can see in the photo below.  There is a difference between inspiration and interpretation in your own artistic style.

Concert Champêtre (ca. 1510) by the Italian Renaissance master Titian
Concert Champêtre (ca. 1510) by the Italian Renaissance master Titian

My second Manet run in with Manet’s piece was coming across a photo from the 1998 ad campaign for Yves Saint Laurent shot by photographer Mario Sorrenti.

Mario Sorrenti reinterprets Manets Le déjeuner sur l'herbe

Mario Sorrenti reinterprets Manets Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by reversing the roles of the men and women as well as eliminating some elements and darkening the scene.  I like that it gives us the opportunity to revisit Manet.

Does it push the boundaries like Manet did? At first glance I would say no because it’s not unusual for me to see an empowered woman in the sense she chooses how to dress, where and with whom to be.  However since it is 2013 and women have yet to achieve complete equality when it comes to pay, status and position I have to say it still is controversial.  Even worse women still have to fight the implementation of laws created to purposefully impede our complete freedom of self autonomy.  Sadly, I do have to admit ignorant stereotypes and roles for women still exist.

What can we learn:

–  Nothing is original
–   Inspired works are okay when done with an artistic style.
–   Women’s roles are still unequal and there is much work to do.

Manet challenges me and inspires me to cross the lines even farther. I accept the challenge and will try to do so with my own works.  I push the status quo every chance I get but in order to grow I must push myself even further.  All I have to do is think of Manet.
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“Her nakedness was not absolute, for like Manet’s Olympia, behind her ear she had a poisonous flower with orange petals, and she also wore a gold bangle on her right wrist and a necklace of tiny pearls. I imagined I would never see anything more exciting for as long as I lived, and today I can confirm that I was right.” Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“The attacks of which I have been the object have broken the spring of life in me… People don’t realize what it feels like to be constantly insulted. ”  Edouard Manet


“The leader, the hero of Realism, is now Manet. His partisans are frenzied and his detractors timid. It would seem that, if one refuses to accept Manet, one must fear being taken for a philistine, a bourgeois , an idiot who cares for nothing but miniatures and painted porcelain to discover whether one has become obese or bald, incapable of understanding the audacities of youth.” Théophile Gautier, writing in Le Moniteur universel.


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