Manet's Olympia Essay

1564 words - 6 pages

Edouard Manet : OlympiaIn 1863 Edouard Manet painted one of the most controversial pieces of art the world has ever seen. Manet's painting was entitled Olympia. For years many have seen it as a joke and others a masterpiece. Discussion of the painting has included lines that look elementary, dull color, poor subject matter, and unexplainable meanings. Others feel that the simple lines, lifeless color, unique subject matter, and various meanings make the painting one of the best in the world. Although peoples' views differ no one is to say right from wrong. Anyone's interpretation of this artwork is as unique and individual as one's own personality. The way that someone views any piece of art depends on their personal experience. Olympia inhabits many aspects of creativity that some flock to while others run.The painting's lines differentiate throughout the painting. Olympia herself has an outlined look, this makes her look two dimensional. Using this type of contour line makes her look very flat. Olympia, however, is the only object in this painting like this. Other lines used allow the painting to flow. For instance the curtain in the background looks graceful as well as the pillows and sheets in the foreground. Its amazing how Manet made the indentation on both the pillows and the sheets. Detail is also expressed greatly. The wallpaper and curtain designs look very stylized, even though they are both different colors, they seem related because of the pattern in them. The flowers are also very detailed. The lines of the flowers allow them to be seen individually instead of collectively. Also the same flowers seen in the bouquet held by the servant can be seen in the blanket Olympia is sitting on. Another attention to detail is Olympia's bracelet and necklace. The lines within these two objects allow us to see the style of her jewelry, therefore giving us a clearer picture of the subject. The lines that make up Olympia's body show us her intimately. The lines create a shape that is common to most women's anatomy, therefore showing us that everyone can look beautiful in their own way. Olympia inhabits a very elegant look because of the easy flowing lines of her body and jewelry. The hard and sharp lines in the background of the wall and lower bed make us realize the rounder shapes of the body. The crisp line of the wall against her shapely body show us the difference between the two objects. The importance of the lines in this painting make it both interesting and intriguing. They bring the lifeless objects of the painting together with the living, beautiful beings around them.Manet's use of color in Olympia separates it from many of his other paintings. Olympia's chest is very lit up making her the focus of the painting. This flattens the image of Olympia by extracting the roundness of her. Everything in this painting is either light or dark. The light and dark both make up two different planes, the foreground and the background. The white...

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