The Beauty of Life

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As Monet’s Woman with a Parasol, (facing right) comes into view, I see a moment in time. I see a moment of glowing harmony. I see a moment of exhilarating motion. I see life.

The atmosphere of the painting is one composed of tranquility. There is a calming swirl of energy in the artwork, as the fluffy clouds in the blue sky shimmer in the invisible breeze, serenely encircling the woman with a parasol in the center. The long, continuous brushstrokes merge the ethereal, sparkling clouds together—the light (seemingly transparent), whitened hues twirling in a dance with the hues of peach.

The atmosphere of the painting is one composed of movement. The woman with a parasol stands on a sprouting ground of multicolored animation. The grasses and blossoms of the land effloresce in the same invisible breeze. With rapid, shortened brushstrokes moving in different directions, with the colors of orange, green, pink, purple, and more mixing together in a conglomeration of flourishing vivacity, there is such breathtaking motion to the terrain.

The atmosphere of the painting is one composed of life. The forces of tranquility and movement unite in a relationship that breathes, that radiates, that lives—the clouds of the azure and the blossoms of the land blend together, erasing any lined boundary between sky and earth.

The woman with a parasol stands in this moment, in the dazzling rays of the sun. As her lightweight scarf flows amongst the clouds, as her dress mingles with the colors of nature’s terrain, she becomes one with this living atmosphere. And with a blurred, unidentifiable face, it is as if you, the viewer, are invited to become this woman with a parasol. You are invited to identify as her. You are invited to enter and experience the beauty of life.

Into the Depths of Modernity

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As my favorite painting, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) has appeared on my blog on multiple occasions. There is just so much to say about this daring artwork by Manet. When I look at this memorable creation, I can’t help but admire its breathtaking evocation of modernity, its mesmerizing rendering of the truths of the contemporary mid-19th C. city. Echoing the writings of Baudelaire, the French poet and art critic, Manet paints a work that delves into the concept of beauty being of the present. Manet renders the world and the people of his day.

This becomes evident when one gazes at the figure of Victorine Meurent. Victorine Meurent, an artist’s model and an artist in her own right, is painted in the nude, surrounded by men fully clothed. Rather than be covered up, her blue hued garments are cast off to the side, as her naked light skin glistens in the glow of an invisible light source. Rather than be portrayed uncomfortable, her posture indicates a sense of freedom and relaxation, with her elbow leaning against her knee and her hand cupping her chin in thought. Rather than be timid and fearful, she is bold and not ashamed. She is shown as a modern woman of the city, someone who does not abide by the gender norms of the past.

Manet does not depict a scene that conforms to academic traditionality, but chooses to depict a scene of authenticity, of everyday 19th C. life.

With a thick usage of paint, the dark, powerful eyes of Meurent look at you, the viewer, directly. Heightened by a slight upturn of the lips, her countenance evokes this sense of confidence and knowledge about the world and the people who reside within in it. Her gaze is a gaze of art’s future, of modernity, of a rejection of the conservative, of the truth. She does not look down. She looks up.