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Édouard Manet and Georges Seurat


Spectacle and irony of Parisian life

Modernity in painting, when form meets the subject

1 Ornans Enterrement.jpg
Courbet and politics
Olympia and  A Bar
at the Folies Bergère

Édouard Manet and Georges Seurat are two of the great forerunners of Modern and Abstract art, but this should not obscure the fact that they also invented a new pictorial form that captured the extraordinary acceleration of the second half of the nineteenth century.

1. The Old Musician by Manet

Formal study

Tested by the academic criteria of what painting should be, and especially by the criteria of history painting, as the size of Manet's painting suggests, Manet appears as a failure, a painter of fragments.

3. Argenteuil by Manet

Meaning in formal mismanagment

The formal study of Argenteuil shows that Édouard Manet disregarded conventional perspective, mistreated verisimilitude and neglected the finish, but it is thanks to this abrupt form that he was able to capture the social and sanitary reality of the banks of the Seine. 

4. Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon...

Political lecture

The Modernists hailed Georges Seurat as a revolutionary of form: he was the inventor of colour division, the first to base his technique on optical mixing. But this radical innovation can also be seen as a way of translating a social and political discourse onto canvas.

Readings Timothy James Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers, Princetone University Press, 1985

Iconographic study

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