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Modernity of Gustave Courbet and Eduardo Manet Essay


In art, modernism refers to the period in the 19th century when artists began dealing with the present issues (Russell, 1981). Some of the notable modern artists are Gustave Courbet and Eduardo Manet. These artists contributed to modernism separately, but still, have some similarities in their artworks. A detailed analysis of the two artists about modernity helps in understanding their contributions to modern art.

Modern artistry is filled with essential qualities and flatness that is different from the traditional artistry (Arnason & Prather, 1998). Gustave contributed to modernism by using realism, which is known to reject traditional subject matters since traditional artists paid attention to idealism (Stokstad, Grayson & Addiss, 1995). He believed that painting was best done by representing real things as a way of communicating through the use of physical objects. Because of this, his work was not abstract like that of most modern artists but represented a series of ideas that reflected ordinary life by failing to color the truth. Because of this, most of Gustave’s paintings done in the 1860s, are known for ushering in the era of modernism. Particularly, paintings like Burial at Ornans, the Stone Breakers and The Origin of the World, played huge roles in modernism.

These paintings explored a new subject matter in art and most of them were not accepted for public exhibitions. The artist was prohibited from exhibiting them for public view. The Origin of the World was kept away from the public for quite a long time. In the Origin of the World, there was an image of a nude female showing the female sex organ. Most people believe that Gustave went too far in this painting since his language was forthright and not linked to tradition. The Stone Breakers showed two poor men completing their daily chores. On the other hand, the Burial at Ornans showed a burial ceremony in his city. By showing scenes from his daily life, Gustave was able to break away from the traditional mode of painting. Gustave’s paintings were also larger than the size of normal paintings showing that he also wanted them to be recognized among the historical paintings.

On the other hand, Manet contributed to modernity by exploring a new subject while using spatial relationships and painterly values (Schneider, 1968). Manet did not tie himself to traditions but set to break the academic rules by presenting controversial artworks. Because of this, most of his artworks were banned from public view. For example, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe or Luncheon on the Grass was received with a lot of animosity from the public and other concerned parties. The painting showed a nude woman among two men who were dressed. The subject of nude women, who probably represented prostitution continued in most of his paintings where there were more deviations from the traditional ways of painting. For example, his mode of presentation was that of brutal contrasts with sketchy backgrounds being in large use.

A look at the two artists reveals some similarities in their modern form of painting. Both explored the subject of women in a flatness that was not there before. There was also a similar tendency of rebelliousness where both presented artworks that were outrightly rejected for public exhibition. For example, using the Origin of the World by Gustave and Le déjeuner sur l’herbe or Luncheon on the Grass by Manet, one can see that the topic is not a usual one even in the contemporary world. This means that the two artworks must have raised serious problems during their lifetimes. While most people do not deal with nude women, the two artists comfortably dealt with this issue expressing their opinions in an expert way (Ross, 2006).

However, one of the differences between the two artists is that Gustave was more into realism than Manet. He could come up with paintings on what was going on in the real-life including burial, work, and other things. However, unlike Gustave, most of Manet’s works dealt with the issue of prostitution, which was very evident at his time. What he did, was expressing the way that shocked many. This can be well illustrated using the two paintings where Gustave’s Origin of the World is only a painting of a woman’s private parts while Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe or Luncheon on the Grass involves a nude woman amidst fully clothed men. Another difference can be shown using Gustave’s Burial at Ornans and the Stone Breakers, which represented the happenings in the world surrounding him against Luncheon on the Grass, which is less real.

In conclusion, some of the notable modern artists are Gustave Courbet and Eduardo Manet both contributed to modern art. A look at artworks by the two artists shows some differences and similarities. For example, while both dealt with women in their artworks among their items, Gustave was more into realism than Manet.

References

Arnason, H H, & Prather, M 1998, History of modern art: painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, Harry N. Abrams, Inc New York.

Ross ,K 2006 The judgment of Paris: the revolutionary decade that gave the world impressionism, Waller & Company, New York.

Russell, J 1981 The meanings of modern art, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Schneider, P 1968. The world of Manet, 1832-1883. New York: Time-Life Books.

Stokstad, M, Grayson, M S, & Addiss, S 1995, Art history, H.N. Abrams, New York.

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IvyPanda. "Modernity of Gustave Courbet and Eduardo Manet." October 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/modernity-of-gustave-courbet-and-eduardo-manet/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Modernity of Gustave Courbet and Eduardo Manet." October 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/modernity-of-gustave-courbet-and-eduardo-manet/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Modernity of Gustave Courbet and Eduardo Manet'. 1 October.

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