T.J. Clark The Paintings of Modern Life, Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers, Thames & Hudson 1984, Revised Edition 1999

T.J. Clark The Paintings of Modern Life, Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers, Thames & Hudson 1984, Revised Edition 1999

Chapter Two, Olympia’s Choice, pp 79 – 147

  • Page 79. Prositution was making the city over in its image and Manet ‘s was seen to be revelling in it.
  • Peculair freedom with useful forms of representation.
  • Founding monument of modern art.
  • Displaces spectator from his accustomed possession of the work.
  • Materiality in and through a prostitute ‘s stare
  • Only traces of the scandal written by Manet were he wrote to Baudelaire in Brussels worrying if the Jesus would be accepted and then wrote again after it and Olympia had been accepted about ‘raining insults’ and Baudelaire wrote an annihlating reply
  • Degas in 1870 ‘s said Manet was as famous as Garibaldi
  • Jacques-Emile Blanche told the story of’Manet the hero of songs and caricatures… passers -by turned to laugh ‘
  • The two pictures were hung in the same room probably one above the other with the title ‘Jesus insulte par les soldats’ and the other with five lines of verse by Zacharie Astruc “
  • Salon opened in early May 1865
  • Never has a painting excited such laughter, mockery and catcalls
  • Crush of spectators was terrified, shocked, disgusted, moved to a kind of pity with epidemics of mad laughter
  • Salon was at the Palais des Champs-Elysees
  • People were used to artists trying to shock ‘drinkers of beer and absinthe.. cursing and swearing… argot of thieves.. republican certainly, socialist probably, communist possibly ‘
  • Olympia and Jesus were moved towards the end of May out of sight.
  • Baudelaire said ‘est -ce un chat, decidement ?’. an overtly baudelerean signature
  • ‘ It was also a picture of a prostitute, we can be fairly certain of that ‘
  • Baudelaire wrote about prostitutes with a similar expression,’poses both provocative and dignified… show themselves in prostrate attitudes of desparate boredom.
  • Page 86. Zacharie Astruc was an admirer of Baudelaire, Olympia was his choice of title, on the face of it a dignified name,’the august young lady ‘, a phrase from his poem was mocked by critics. Part of the mockery was his talents as a poet.

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