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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mapping of the essay by Sneha Sharon

Sneha Sharon


MEL 132

Western Aesthetics

July 15th, 2010.

A Map of Timothy J. Clark’s “Preliminaries to a Possible Treatment of ‘Olympia’ in 1865”

Paragraph 1: Olympia’s unfortunate plight of being stranded for display almost for two years- A resubmission by the artist, Manet in 1865- Initial good will and enthusiasm among art critics- The Salon review and Manet’s anxiety.

Paragraph 2: Salon affirmed negative critical response- Four supporters among sixty. Written records/ criticism and analysis of the work on Olympia in 1865 by Jean Ravenel- sole record available.

Paragraph 3: Perplexing title and the ‘outlandish’ verses of introduction- sexual connotations hence judgemental. Relation of a text to the spectator- Olympia limits
forced vocabulary.

Paragraph 4: Complete study as deviating therefore focus on the painting on ‘determinate’, ‘materialistic’ grounds.

Paragraph 5: Discourses routed:1) Clark uses the term ‘Discourse on woman in the 1860’s- combination of the otherwise tripartite version of the woman/ nude/ prostitute. 2) Second Empire: Aesthetic judgement- historic categories- absence of the same make it difficult topic of concern.

Paragraph 6: Olympia –signified unequivocal picture of a prostitute- Several ways of references- 1) ‘woman coutisane, 2) ‘some red head from the quartier breda 3) une manolo du bas etage. 4) Ravenel’s ‘a girl of the night from Paul Niquet’s.- Olympia- representative of sexuality laid out for inspection- Discourse on Woman, realm of art accepts this category of the saleable sex. Alain Corbin- 19th century pin points the prostitute as an important realm while converging on the discourse on woman- seen as a unity- the constituent of feminity. Feminine- 1) fille publique 2) femme honnete, the former articulates relations between sexual identity/ power and social class. Basically founding signification of woman.

Paragraph 7: Transgressive elements plus verbal violence in the painting. Difficult understanding of courtesean and woman held together. Disentangling femininity and prostitution is like going away from normal relations.

Paragraph 8: Nudity as one of the notions of the discourse on woman- marks its artificiality too. Nude- term of art/art criticism- intersection of the sexual and the artistic paving way for 1) representation, 2)knowledge and 3)decorum. Mid way term- pronouncing revealing, unrevealed sexuality/ displayed, masked form. Olympia failed to propound that a woman can be known in her nakedness.

Paragraph 9: Unanswered questions- what sex was Olympia / did it have a sex at all/ could it be included in the discourse on woman at all/ constituting artistic tradition?/modern example of the nude?/ nude and fille publique mapping?/ Instability of the term prostitute- invading myth of the vacation of the edge of city by the prostitute to build a new city with only edges and no single demarcations.

Paragraph 10: Tracking normal forms of discourse in writings on Olympia, figures of death and decay- Olympia’s hand covering her pubic hair as unconventional of the nude- Olympia’s entire posture is ‘disobedient’/ ‘unyielding’/ ‘unfeminine’ Bertall’s caricature stands as a critique of Manet’s original version.

Paragraph 11: Unstable meaning of the picture yields further criticism. Attempts to instate previous forms of representation- Research proves contrary.

Paragraph 12: Olympia and Titian’s Venus of Urbino parallel Baudelaire. Comparison between the former calls in for twentieth century criticism yet again. Titian’s- ‘hollow and hackneyed’ example of the nude. Therefore, should Manet’s work be seen as a referred work/ greater tradition of European art?

Paragraph 13: Amedee Cantalobe’s Le Grand Journal feels Bertell’s is ‘sort of female gorilla..’ Pierrot too comments on the grotesque figure.

Paragraph 14: Reference back to tradition was apparently invisible to most. Titian’s alignment of the nude- travesty/ aping and denying the body both humanity and femininity.

Paragraph 15: Clark likes Pierrot’s comment. Silence of the text- interprets crudity and meaningless picturisation of Titian’s work.

Paragraph 16: Ravenel-complex-L’Epoque –paper of the ‘far left opposition’ -aware of its own uncertainity.

Paragraph 17: Olympia treated as a product of Spanish ‘madness’- disregarded and contempt for the same- vicious weirdness of the character according to some- physical grossness multiplied in reviews.

Paragraph 18: Effective criticism. However, Ravenel breaks the codes of Olympia. His is being pictured down to Baudelaire and Goya- anti bourgeois. Gives Olympia a sort of temporal class identity too- petite faubourienne. Perplexing amounts of signifiers and signifieds. School of Baudelaire leads/ Self conscious satanic Baudelaire’s propositions and assumptions.

Paragraph 19: Even Baudelaire does not stabilize meaning- multiple and refractory. Only the text can be taken up as the central theme of reference- guarantee of its own perplexity- ‘Priveleged system of signs’ apparently fails.

Paragraph 20: The above stands true for the recognition/attribution of class. Ravenel’s petite fabourienne. System of meanings- nothing concrete-shifts directed clearly- but the directions are unclear. Rapid moves- fail to assimilate the other- various metaphors do assist however.

Paragraph 21: Identification of class as a ‘trigger’- fail to circle on themselves. Illusory quality as against ‘free play of the signifier’. To have matter and the text and to work against.

Paragraph 22: Clark’s as an objective analysis?- within historical materialism- mapping the silence and uncertainty involved in the image. Answer hinges on to the convention of the nude and handling of sexuality.

Paragraph 23: Picture- sexual identity- critics of 1865 disagree- instead propose that Olympia failed to inhabit the arena of the discourse on woman- thereby not nude, nor prostitute- neither a modification of the nude- plain sexuality heading for a narrow escape from societal decorum-scandalous yet not although charged to have. Odd duet of disgrace and decorum. Three aspects dealt : 1) Access and address that is the body to be presented rather precisely-neither too mall nor too great. Courbet’s The Bathers unclothed opposite and opponent of male proletarian nakedness.

Paragraph 24: The Bathers too broke codes of the nude- tried establishing the nude in opposition to the spectator- resistance to vision.

Paragraph 25: Olympia neither canonically nude nor borrowed Realism’s refutations. Spectator not given any space for view and identification- nor exclusion and resistance. The gaze and importance for interpretation.

Paragraph 26: 2) ‘Incorrectness’ in the drawing of the figure’s body- dislocation and deformity.

Paragraph 27: 3) Manipulations- hair and hairlessness/ decorum- sexuality strong permissible signs. Olympia breaking the signs.

Paragraph 28: Reversal of terms- framed face. Physical attributes.

Paragraph 29: Taxonomy of the woman- 0lympia very much in the cannon. ‘Disidentifactory practices of art’
Paragraph 30: Is there a difference with tactical implications? Arbitrary play of signifiers versus a sort of play which disrupts. Class struggle-define and dismantle the body. Else, its acts are insignificant like Manet’s.

Paragraph 31: Olympia refuses to signify- not in the conventional realm of the nude and neither the imaginary. However, may be in terms of classes. Could we give her a place in the world which ‘manufactures’ the Imaginary and produces the binaries of the dominator/dominated, fantasizer/ fantasized?

Paragraph 32: Necessarily then, a complex and elliptical position- but readable- conflicts- shifting margins of the petite faubourienne and courtisane/ prostitute and the proletarian. Endless exchange of social and sexual meanings (Second Empire).

Paragraph 33: Olympia- dance of ideology- erodes normal recognitions- she is constantly re engaged made to collude in her ‘double role’.

Paragraph 34: Relevant other meaning in the social space/ counter meaning/clash of classes. Critique of the dominant systems of meaning also the repressed.

Paragraph 35: Manet’s companion painting: The Mocking of Christ- unpopular picture in 1865 in the Salon- branded worse than Olympia. Also, deliberate caricature of religious art. However, definitely not an equation of Christ and Olympia. Bizarre versions of the nude and the altarpiece. Credibility of Manet’s work, his art ‘turns inwards on its own means and materials’. Whole range of contrary iconography. Aim of this work of art: to present the artifice of this familiar ‘repertoire of modern life’.

Work cited:

Clark, Timothy J. “Preliminaries to a Possible Treatment of ‘Olympia’ in 1865." Art in Modern Culture: An Anthology of Critical Texts. Eds. Francis Franscina, and Jonathan Harris. London/New York: Phaidon, 1992.Print.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

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