Orsay: 23/9/2010

After having thoroughly enjoyed our first day at the Musee D’Orsay I expected to feel likewise today… and I did! Today the works we studied seemed to focus on one general reoccurring theme: nude versus naked. I never realized that there was a difference in these seemingly identical terms but I was wrong. A subject is nude when they are being idealized in the painting, generally if one subject is nude then all subjects are nude. A subject is nude when he/she is portrayed in a tasteful manner meaning that the viewer does not pay attention to the fact that they are not wearing clothes; nude appears to be a state of being, not a choice. Naked, on the other hand, is a choice. The subject is often portrayed covering him or herself and there are frequently piles of clothes on the floor. Additionally, an artist may only portray one subject as naked and the others as clothed to further demonstrate the fact that the subject is naked and not nude. Such was the case in Edouard Manet’s “Olympia” circa 1863. This realist oil on canvas painting was featured in the Salon of 1865 because of its avant-garde but beautiful nature. Olympia is clearly naked because you can see her clothes laying beneath her. Additionally, she is covering herself further demonstrating that she is naked. Her hand is the clearest part of the painting and the most in focus which draws the viewer’s attention to exactly what she is covering. The fact that her handmaid is clothed only further exacerbates Olympia’s nakedness. Additionally, Manet used a play on words and some seriously twisted-humor by adding a cat to the painting to further draw the viewer’s attention to Olympia’s nakedness. Every brush stroke was done with intent to purposefully make this painting shocking. I really like this painting because not only is it beautiful but it also clearly demonstrates the difference between nude and naked subjects in artwork.

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About cristinasartadventure

Bonjour! I am an American girl studying art and architecture in the most beautiful city in the world: Paris, France. This blog will chronicle my art adventures, museum trips, church visits and all sorts of other amazing things that I will see during my stay. Enjoy!
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