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Modernity In 19th Century Art; Manet, Monet, Bazille, And Caillebotte

982 words - 4 pages

The Impressionist movement, while one of the more commonly known movements in art history, was also one of the most radical. As with anything new, there is a foreman, and Edouard Manet was this man. Not only did Manet’s paintings make him a crucial pioneer in the Impressionist’s revolt against the Academy’s standards of art, but what made him so radical was the way he painted and what he painted, along with others like Claude Monet, Frederic Bazille, and Gustave Caillebotte. Manet’s paintings exhibit something especially radical for the art of his time in the eyes of the academy and make them essential in leading up to the rebellion of the Impressionists; their modernity of self-consciousness.
A few of Manet’s paintings, in particular, that exhibit this modern self-consciousness are Le Dejeuner sur I’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), and Olympia, although these are not Manet’s only paintings to display these modern characteristics. The first of these, Le Dejeuner, exhibits this radical new way of painting mainly in its subject matter, but also its self-consciousness. The subject matter makes this painting quite scandalous, not because the figure is naked, but because the word used to describe the figure is “naked” and not “nude.” For the art in the academy, the nude figures we called such for the fact they were rendered as ideal human forms in their natural states. In Manet’s painting, this naked female has her clothes in a heap on the ground beside her, suggesting she has purposely taken her clothes off. Along with this, she is looking straight at the viewer of the painting, giving the painting the self-consciousness that the academy had never taught. The academy paintings’ subjects are often gazing off in the distance, as if they aren’t aware they are being viewed, making this subject so drastic in comparison. Manet’s painting Olympia shows the same self-consciousness in the way the woman is gazing defiantly at the viewer, but also in the way Manet handled the paint. The Salon paintings that were approved by the academy were highly polished, their brushstrokes practically invisible, with an overall smoothness to the entire painting, whereas Manet’s shows a rough under-painting and has separate patches of color, with no apparent use of chiaroscuro. This can be seen as another manifestation of self-consciousness, as the painting is not being disguised as reality, so it is clearly a painting. These major characteristics of Manet’s approach to his painting were what made him so radical, as they were severely different from the Salon standards of acceptable art.
Three specific impressionist artists, Claude Monet, Frederic Bazille, and Edgar Degas challenged the Salon’s standards of art in both style and subject matter. Of the three, Monet’s seems to eliminate dark tones from his palette the most. The paintings accepted by the Salon in the past...

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