Avant-garde means “advance guard” or “vanguard”. The term is used in English as a noun or adjective to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics. Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm, primarily in the cultural realm. The idea of the presence of the avant-garde is considered by some to be the hallmark of modernism, as distinct from postmodernism. Many artists have aligned themselves with the avant-garde movement and still continue to do so today. Édouard Manet is considered as one of the godfathers of the Avant-garde.
Manet was a French painter, one of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern-life subjects; he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, provoked and stimulated great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today, these are considered crisis paintings that mark the beginning of modern art.
Our main focus is the large oil painting
, created 1862 and 1863 The painting depicts the comparison of the infamous Manet female nude and a scantily dressed female bathing in the background, on a picnic with two fully dressed men in a countryside setting. This painting was extremely shocking to the public and art professionals. The astonishment value of a woman, naked as can be, casually lunching with two fully dressed men, which was an outrage to the propriety of the era, was emphasized by the familiarity of the figures. Manet’s wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, and his favorite model, Victorine Meurent, both posed for the nude woman, which has Victorine’s face, but Manet’s wife’s plumper body figure. Her body is harshly lit and she stares directly at the viewer. With this stark stare towards the viewer engages the viewer as saying that the viewer is the main focus of the painting. The two men are Manet’s brother Gustave Manet and his future brother-in-law, Ferdinand Leenhoff. They are dressed like young men; perhaps young college students as the video mentions. The men seem to be engaged in a conversation, ignoring the fully nude woman. In front of them, the woman’s clothes, a basket of fruit, and a round loaf of bread are displayed, as in a still life. In the background a lightly clad woman bathes in a stream. The Woman is too large in contrast with the figures in the foreground; she seems to float above them rather than located in the distance behind them. The roughly painted background lacks depth that most paintings of the time had, giving the viewer the impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but that the painting was done in a studio. This impression is reinforced by the use of broad detailed and precise light, which casts almost no shadows. In fact, the lighting of the scene is inconsistent and unnatural.
This painting was extraordinary and unexpected of its mainly because of the nude woman and the techniques that were used. Focusing on the nude woman she is not like most. Her skin is not smooth and she is not in shape. She is plump and looks as if she is out of shape and could use some exercise. During this time period all artist were trying to hide all there brush strokes. They were not wanted to be seen as well as they would wax and polish there paintings. Manet did the opposites with was actually made for a hard painting process. In the painting we can she each brush stroke with gave the nude female a rough complexion. I found it very interesting that one of the things that made it so controversial about her being nude was her clothing being in front of her as though she is a prostitute. All paintings that included nude woman before this was ok because their clothing was not laying in front of them or that they were nymphs. Something that to me is such a small detail makes the painting such a shock and awe makes me laugh inside a little. There were a lot of little things such as the man on the right is wearing a hat that is a smoking hat and only meant to be worn in side was a small sign of disrespect. Many during this time thought the whole piece was disrespectful to the art society, but on another note many believe Manet was ahead of his time and he would be a factor in the future. This art piece has been very interesting and fun for me to study and learn about. I really found it interesting in how Manet was influenced by previous art work to compose this piece which in turn influenced future artist for there work such as the photographer that did the album cover for BowWowWow pop artist group.