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Posts Tagged ‘ugliness’

Critic Felix Deriege lays a whole trip on Olympia

In Olympia's Degradation, The Black Cat on May 11, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Baldung, Witches Sabbath

May 21st, 1865

[Olympia] is lying on her bed, having borrowed from art no ornament but a rose which she has put in her towlike hair.  This redhead is of perfect ugliness.  Her face is stupid, her skin cadaverous.  She does not have a human form; Monsieur Manet has so pulled her out of joint that she could not possibly move her arms or legs. By her side one sees a Negress who brings in a bouquet and at her feet a cat who wakes and has a good stretch, a cat with hair on end, out of a witches’ Sabbath by Callot.  White, black, red , and yellow  make a frightful confusion on this canvas; and impossible forms, seize one’s attention and leave one stupefied!

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Critic Gautier deems Olympia repugnant

In Critics, Olympia's Degradation, The Black Cat on May 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Theophile Gautier, by Nadar.

Critic and poet Theophile Gautier writes, May 23rd, 1865:

With some repugnance I come to the peculiar paintings by Manet. It is awkward to discuss them, but they cannot be passed by in silence. . . . Many people think it is enough to pass them by and laugh, but that is a mistake. Manet is not without importance; he has a school, he has admirers, even fanatic followers; his influence extends further than is generally realized. M. Manet has the honor of being a danger. But now the danger is passed.

Olympia is inexplicable from any point of view even taken for what she is, a puny model stretched out on a sheet. The color of the flesh is dirty, the modeling non-existent. The shadows are indicated by more or less large smears of blacking.  What’s to be said of the negress who brings a bouquet of flowers in a paper, or the black cat that leaves its muddy footprints on the bed? We would still excuse the ugliness were there only some truth in it, some careful study, heightened by some splendid effect of color. Even the least pretty woman has bones, muscles, skin and some sort of color. Here there is nothing, we are sorry to say, but the desire to attract…