Edouard Manet was a 19th century painter forging a path between Realism and Impressionism. He painted modern life, something new in the world of art. By this, it is meant that he records everyday life of the everyday man: sitting in cafes, listening to music, flirting, reading, or simply relaxing.
Manet was a progressive with regards to his art. He used paint expressively, leaving brushstrokes visible on the canvas. He often outlined people and objects. His paintings Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia were both considered controversial. The former for the juxtapositioning of two fully clothed men with a nude woman enjoying lunch in the woods. The latter for its brazen positioning of the nude female and the sexual symbolism within the work. Manet would also pay homage to Old Master works through his compositions as he did with Olympia which is patterned after Titian’s 1538 painting, Venus of Urbino.
Manet was about making statements with his art. The following quote speaks volumes about his artistic vision:
Color is all a question of taste and sensibility. You must have something to say—if not, you might as well pack up. One isn’t a painter if one doesn’t love painting more than anything else in the world, and it isn’t enough to know your job; you’ve got to be excited by it ….
I love this quote because it is at the heart of what I want my students to learn: be excited by your artwork, say something! I have become SO tired of students coming in with the mindset of “doing a little craft while they talk to their friends.” I want it less about ‘completing a project’ and more about self-expression and personal investment. Yes, I want something more from my class, but I mostly want something more for them.
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