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Manet Essay, Research Paper

Manet – Still Life

Clarity, Contour, urbanity and virtuous ability to handle paint-such are the qualities that first strike us in Manet s art. Before we attempt to analyze the meaning of what s within Edouard Manet s work entitled still life, Grapes and figs, one must first identify, and note, the somewhat colorful events which occurred within the artist life, and note the way in which they must have led his work.

Born in France in 1832, Manet was raised by his parents Auguste and Eugenie-Desiree a society couple, who s social standing resulted from Auguste s successful career in the Ministry of Justice, Paris. Indeed, so successful was Auguste in his chosen field that upon his retirement he was awarded the Legion of Honor. It is thought by many that the importance of Augustes role in both society and the ministry actually intimidated the young Manet, who constantly aspired throughout his adult life, to gain the same level of reverence as that which his father possessed.

However, it is the actions of the artists’ youth, which many therapists believe is the key to understanding the ambiguous portrayal of woman within his paintings, throw out his career. It was during the late 1850 s when Manet was serving as a naval cadet in Rio de Janeiro, that he met a number of slave girls, Manet had openly admitted in letters to his friends the extend to which he found their tropical beauty alluring. Yet, is was not until Manet returned to France that he reveled the true extent of his relationships with these girls, and confessed to the fact that he had been using his time to relate to the girls in an adult way.

The answer lies in the artists life long ill-health, it was in fact Manet himself who first diagnosed although now medically proven to be wrong that the physical pain from which he suffered on a daily basis was the result of a syphilis virus contracted during one of his aforementioned youthful encounters, a misconception which haunted the artist throughout his life. Taking this point into consideration, you must therefore consider the psychological effects that Manet s own feelings of guilt and regret concerning the cause of his illness, (And why he drew the grapes), and consider the effects that it had upon his life and his work, and thus in turn the way in which those feelings influenced his view of women as a whole, but particularly those of ill-repute.

While some critics acknowledge that Manet had always wished to paint a Biblical scene as an exercise of his talent, Like such paintings as The Waitress Serving Beer, Departure of the Folkston, and the A Bar at the Foiles-Bergere the application of such a stance that he made with the grapes and how they came to be one when they were two different kinds of grapes, and therefore illuminates the work as nothing less than a painting which exhibits complete defiance to all that was considered appropriate and indeed, acceptable in the eyes of the Academy. This however, it can be argued was Manets wish. By 1882, after years of constant rejection by the critical elite, Manet s frustration toward the Academy was at its peak, the very sense of having, (what he considered) to be his best work dismissed so entirely, along with his self inflicted sense of failure when comparing the achievements his own life when compared to his Fathers success, drove Manet to paint a piece which acted not only as a final contemplation for the Academy but also as a self analytical challenge to the viewing public. For, who else but a dying man would have dared to question societies treatment of gender by substituting people with the figure of a grape?

It is not until one has recognized the importance of the inter-personal influences behind Manet s painting that one can then truthfully analyze the painting itself. , would at first, appear to be a simple group of fruit with inter-groups of themselves and working relationship with the others however, the iconographic message that Manet was attempting to convey through this painting can be identified as being far more complex than a mere still painting. In fact, it would be a valid presumption, to identify that the painting is in fact, centered around three things, as opposed to the apparent dozen.

It is the identification of this third integral character, that being the reflection of the fruit by the light to the left of the viewer, which provides the key to the understanding of Manet+s intentions. The very inclusion of this figure by the artist demands nothing less from the viewer than a full analysis of the significance of the painting as a whole. For example, the very fact that the third figure can rightfully claim its own identity is not at first obviously apparent. It is not until the viewer is stood in front of the painting for any length of qualitative time that the inconsistency between the physical positioning of the actual one figure is formed, and its shadow, becomes apparent in back of the pear, for the geographical positioning of the two figures is so contradictory that there is no rational argument which could be upheld to associate the two figures so that they maybe considered as one but as many.

However, the clarity with which one can identify the deliberate questions concerning gender, which Manet raises within the painting, compels one to defend the artist and to thus consider that his genius has failed, to this day, to be recognized. One possible reason or such a dismissal by society may be attributed to the negative repercussions of the viewers psychological Set. A viewer’s set is determined by his preconceived opinions concerning an artist or an artist work, which, in turn prevents an honest and objective overview of the artist from ever actually being achieved. Not only does the preconception surrounding the favor ability of the artist govern the extend to which he will be accepted by the viewing public as a whole, but the social and ethical fashions of the time will also have a substantial effect upon the way in which the viewer perceives the piece.

Every aspect of Manet s painting is identifiably engineered in such a way as to provoke and confront the individual who stands before it. Not only is this painting an example of a highly structured collation of social observations but is a piece which was intended to identify the plight of those members of society who had fallen prey to the hypocritical social injustices of contemporary society, Manet s painting, although embracing the social questions which were particularly relevant to Nineteenth century society, is, in fact so successful in its provocation of audience response, that one could fairly identify that the self analytical essence of the piece, has is in no way been diluted by the passage of time, and still remains relevant some hundred years later.


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