Homage to Manet

A Studio at Batignolles (also called Homage to Manet), 1870

 

Les Batignolles was the district where Édouard Manet and many of the future Impressionists lived. Henri Fantin-Latour, a quiet observer of this period, has gathered around Manet, presented as the leader of the school, a number of young artists with innovative ideas: from left to right, we can recognise Otto Schölderer, a German painter who had come to France to get to know Gustave Courbet‘s followers, a sharp-faced Manet, sitting at his easel; Auguste Renoir, wearing a hat; Zacharie Astruc, a sculptor and journalist; Émile Zola, the spokesman of the new style of painting; Edmond Maître, a civil servant at the Town Hall; Frédéric Bazille, who was killed a few months later during the 1870 war, at the age of twenty-six; and lastly, Claude Monet.

Their attitudes are sober, their suits dark and their faces almost grave: Fantin-Latour wanted these young artists, who were greatly decried at the time, to be seen as serious, respectable figures. Only two accessories remind the spectator of the aesthetic choices of the new school: the statuette of Minerva bears witness to the respect due to the antique tradition; the Japanese style stoneware jar evokes the admiration of this entire generation of artists for Japanese art.

In this group portrait exhibited at the Salon of 1870, each man seems to be posing for posterity. The painting confirms the links between Fantin-Latour and the avant-garde of the time and Manet in particular. It echoes Zola’s opinion of Manet: “Around the painter so disparaged by the public has grown up a common front of painters and writers who claim him as a master”. In his diary, Edmond de Goncourt sneered at Manet, calling him “the man who bestows glory on bar room geniuses”.

Advertisements

D&G’s Neorealism

Dolce & Gabbana SS 2013 Collection Ad Campaign

 
 

Movie Poster

 
 

Antonio Arcidiacono as ‘Ntoni

 
 

Stills from The Earth Trembles

 
 

Styling & Photography: Domenico Dolce Stefano Gabbana

 
 

Parodying the infamous Fascist slogan quoted in Visconti’s movie, we could say “Dolce and Gabbana are always right”.

 
 

While I was preparing the previous post and looked intently at the swimsuits worn by some of the characters depicted in Scène d’Été, by Frédéric Bazille I was reminded of the stripes from Dolce & Gabbanna’s Spring Summer Collection 2013-2014.
 
The Italian duo had a very specific inspiration for the whole concept; a neorealist movie, La Terra Trema / The Earth Trembles (Luchino Visconti, 1948). Is an adaption for the screen from I Malavoglia / The House by the Medlar Tree, originally written in 1881 by Giovanni Verga. This author was one of the precursors of verismo, a literary or painting movement and opera style which were in many ways the basis for neorealism.
 
The first neorealist film is generally thought to be Ossessione (Luchino Visconti, 1943). But in Toni (1935), Jean Renoir made a notable use of non-professional actors and location shooting, two of the main characteristics of the Italian neorealism. Visconti worked in that movie as a Jean Renoir’s assistant.
 
There was a strong reason to film outdoor. During the World War II the film studios had been damaged significantly. All this movement came about in the post-war right after Benito Mussolini’s government fell.
 
Although they were filmed with nonprofessional actors, in a number of cases, well known actors were cast in leading roles. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana followed those unorthodox rules.
 
“With Taormina (Sicily) as a setting and supported by “real” people, Bianca Balti, Monica Bellucci, and Bianca Brandolini D’Adda –genuine Italian Graces, portray many of the values upheld by Dolce & Gabbana. Pomp and ceremony are juxtaposed to quaint familiar portraits of everyday life. Jovial dancing and singing complement moments shared and families brought together by love and food. Characters busy at lace making, embroidering, cross-stitching display the crafts utilized to decorate the collection. The gold embroidery and floral tapestry stand out against the colorful majolica synonymous with Sicilian pottery”, it was said about the concept.

Swimming Toward Paradise

“…There is always somebody, when we come together, and the edges of meeting are still sharp, who refuses to be submerged; whose identity therefore one wishes to make crouch beneath one’s own…”

 

The Waves

Virginia Woolf

 
 

779px-Eakin's_art_studens_bathing_3Eakin’s Art Studens Bathing in Dove Lake,Philadelphia, 1883

 
 

Landscape sketch

 
 

Final sketch

 
 

The Swimming Hole (also known as Swimming and The Old Swimming Hole).

 
 

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,

They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,

They do not think whom they souse with spray.
 

Excerpt from Song of Myself

Walt Whitman

 
 

Before starting to paint The Swimming Hole (1884-85), Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins took some photographs and made some studies, a very usual method for him. Eakins made the oil as a commission by Edward Hornor Coates, a Philadelphia businessman who chaired the Committee on Instruction at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where Eakins taught, but at the end of the day, he rejected to acquire the painting. As luck would have it, this is maybe his most famous piece of art, an American Arcadia.
 
In Swimming, Eakins depicts six male nude figures on and near an outcropping of rock at the edge of a remote lake, four of them on the rocky ledge itself, reminiscent of figures on a Greek pediment. Eakins is indeed shown swimming toward the outcropping to join the others–or, as New York magazine critic Mark Stevens‘s fanciful musing would have it, “swimming toward paradise from the darker edge.”
 
Like Stevens, Sanford Schwartz, a professor of English at Penn State, makes much–too much– of the naked male bodies in Swimming, calling the painting “a love song to male beauty” in which Eakins conveys “an ardent heroizing desire yet with no trace of lasciviousness.” The painting, in his view, “presents a sense of physical adoration” in which “an older man [Eakins] is seen swimming toward the men on or near the rocks,” giving it a “sexual and narrative tension.” “Being appreciated, at a particular instant, by a singular older man, these beautiful young swimmers become individuals themselves,” he asserts. The painting, Schwartz continues, does not “necessarily reveal that Eakins . . . harbored homosexual longings he couldn’t otherwise express,” and, in any case, “the painter’s actual sexual orientation . . . isn’t the issue.”

 
 

Ancestor:
 

Scene d’Été / Les Baigneurs (Summer Scene /Bathers). Frédéric Bazille, 1869.

It is not unlikely that Eakins saw the painting at the Salon while studying in Paris, and would have been sympathetic to its depiction of male bathers in a modern setting.

 
 

Successor:
 

Forty-two Kids. George Bellows, 1907