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Posts Tagged ‘unfinished’

Manet’s work is criticized as unfinished, negligent, and a mistake

In Critics, Paris Salon on May 11, 2010 at 5:54 am

In La France, June 1st, 1865

Each day [Olympia] is surrounded by a crowd of visitors, and in this constantly changing group, reflections and observations are made out loud which spare the picture no part of the truth. Some people are delighted, they think it a joke that they want to look as if they understood; others observe the thing seriously and show their neighbour, here a well-placed tone, and there a hand which is improper, but richly painted; finally one sees painters whose work was rejected by the salon jury this year –and there is the proof that they do exist– standing in front of the picture, beside themselves with spite and indignation. Very probably everyone is right to some extent, and such diverse opinions are authorized by the incredible irregularities of Monsieur Manet’s work. He has shown mere sketches. Yet we are not of the opinion, which is too widespread, that his negligence is a parti pris on his part, a sort of ironic defiance hurled at the jury and the public. The jury would certainly have distinguished a studio jape from an unsatisfactory work of art, and would have closed the doors of the Palais des Champs-Elysées against it. From another point of view, an artist cannot treat the public lightly without compromising his reputation, which sometimes never recovers; and Monsieur Manet, who appears at each exhibition, is certainly pursuing something other than the sad celebrity obtained by such perilous procedures. We prefer to think he has made a mistake. And what is his aim? His canvases are too unfinished for us to possibly tell.