Sunday, December 09, 2007

Try It, You'll Like It

I've decided to throw some art at you on a semi-regular basis, because art is good for you, many people fail to appreciate it because of preconceived notions that "art is boring" or through lack of exposure to it altogether, and because it would please me. Mostly because it would please me.

I don't want to frighten anyone right out of the gate, so we won't go straight to post modernism or pop art or any of my most favorite genres that can be inaccessible and confusing to some people...let's try something nice and pretty and easy to digest but still interesting, like this impressionist/realist piece from 1862 by Édouard Manet. Be sure to click on it to view it in its larger size, otherwise the finer details are somewhat muted.

It is called "Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe" or "Luncheon on the Grass" and was quite controversial in its time, apparently because a painting of a nude in a classical setting was deemed acceptable, while one in a contemporary setting was not.

The background of the painting seems to have been painted with far less attention to detail than the figures in the foreground, in particular the nude woman, who seems the most vividly realized object in the entire piece, no doubt to further draw attention to the fact that she is indeed naked in the presence of two men. It almost makes her more naked by contrast.

I love that the woman is nude for no real reason (although I suppose one could surmise that she had been bathing with the other female figure in the background) while the fully-clothed men seem engaged with each other and completely oblivious of her very presence, let alone her nudity. I also love the direct eye contact with the viewer by the woman, almost challenging you to be shocked by her. It takes her out of the painting in some way, bringing her into the present day, instead of merely making her a flat and inanimate image on a canvas painted 150 years ago.

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