Olympia- Edouard Manet


Edouard Manet, Olympia,1865

The work Olympia was more ridiculed than the luncheon, the critics charged him with the

fact that this picture was indecently naked. It was an inspiration from the artwork the Venus

of the Urbino made by the master Titian. Again, here he relates and uses the rather

contemporary subject, to do justice to what he wanted to indicate. Manet`s Olympia was a

mockery or a parody. The model name was Victorine Meurent. (A prostitute and a painter)


The disturbance that it created in the critics mind was the portrayal of a successful prostitute,

who is devoid of clothes sits in a rather bold posture. Her gesture suggests the action where she

covers her sex whit her hand, in order to suggest, the suggested. She wears a mysterious sneer

which seems a though is about to change into a smile .There is a slave behind holing a

bouquet of flowers which has no significance to her, sent to her by one of her admirers. She

lays on the bed for no other purpose than sex. She allures the viewer in.


She is talked about in a fashion of being the portrayal of an independent individual, who has a

secure profession. She looks directly at the viewer and speaks out loudly in the face, as she

knows what they want from her. The society where Manet lived treated women as an object

of use nurture, comfort, inspire or arouse.


She looks at the viewer with contempt. The tradition that has been continued from

renaissance that to honour human, thus to consider human being in the work of art above

everything else, was not the focus of art then.


Her strength lies in her independence. She is not a goddess or a nymph, in a dreamy position,

mistaken, or a bather seen off guard. She is a prostitute, not weary for sleep, but is beaten

down under her nights work. Paris then was swamped with prostitutes. The painting did not

serve the purpose of charming the public, but was a naked truth, which uncovered what was

being practiced and hidden under the concealed eye of sophistication. The woman here is not

trying to pretend, she was reflecting the truth of a common working class girl.


She lounges back and is scantly accessorised; she wears heels on one foot while the other

carelessly falls of. She wears a ribbon in her neck symbolic of prostitution then, a huge

flower adorns her ear. She seems conscious and alert of the act; she was alluring the viewer

into. Manet shows the truth and not the lie that hid in the painting of masters, the

exaggeration of a perfect woman body..


The part that outraged the crowd was that he changed the terminology of a picnic, which was

otherwise carried off in a more clad manner. She stares placidly at the viewer, putting the

viewer in an uneasy role of a client.


She is tantalizingly self-sufficient. There’s nothing humble about her. To the wealthy

collectors of art and women, who regarded both as possessions, Olympia stripped them of

their illusions. Her body is ripe for the taking, but everything else, including the meaning

behind that enigmatic almost-smile, she’s keeping for herself.

Titian, Venus of Urbino,1538

Karl Marx views on Society and Art



In the beginning more focus was laid in trying to reach out people and propagate religion, art

was the best medium, and now with the change in the society with the incoming of various

new technology like television ,the motives and priorities  of art have changed too. According

to the theory of Marx until and unless the proletariat class will not identify their rights there

will be no gains and change in the society, he says “In a formation of the class with radical

chains , a sphere of society having a universal character because of its universal suffering …

a sphere, in short, that is the complete loss of humanity and can only redeem itself through

the total redemption of humanity. This dissolution of society as a particular class is the

proletariat”.  He further concludes by replacing the proletariat within a framework of a

transformed Hegelian philosophy “As philosophy finds its material weapons in the

proletariat, the preliterate finds its intellectual weapons in philosophy”.


Marx concentrated more on the fact that any art produced anywhere is a response to the social

conditions a reflection to the society. He comments how the elite art market the social

condition and the political environment effected the production of art. He propounded his

theory on the basic of two main elements namely the base structure includes the economy and

finance and the superstructure contains the entertainment, art, culture and customs. In all

societies art expresses the current social situations. According to him art cannot act

independently outside the circle of the society. He thus posed an opposition to the theory of

formalism which basically acted on the fact that art should be viewed keeping it apart from

the society. He believed that art should bring about a change, thus supporting the mankind.

The formalist did not keep in mind the mental situation of the artist. He acclaimed that art

also suffers the consequences of the capitalist market.


-Akanksha Khanna

Jaishri Abhichandi and her treatment of art


        Jaishri Abhichandani, Durga Yantra

The work of Jaishri Abhichandani deals with the notion of female sexuality and gender identity along with issues in the world of politics and events which would be history in a couple of years. Her works are provocative and personal.


The foundation of youth,Jaishri Abhichandani

A sculpture named “The foundation of youth” after birth of her son in which whips are used in a manner that show ageing and they are contrasted by white pearls. Another installation called “The foundation of life” constricted out of aged and weather beaten women. Three women slouching as through tired and exhausted by pregnancy fatigue. She walks deep into the situation of being pregnant and talks about motherhood and complications related to it.

A series of works under the broad classification of duty jewels where she has used embroidery hoops which (mainly used by women) are oval in shape as a frame to stretch her canvas on. Further glossed with pais leg motifs, rich textile cloth, garlands and pink for.


     Babli and Manoj, Jaishri Abhichandani

She pointed out issues related to honour killings where Babli and Manoj were killed as they eloped, their portrait is decorated with paisley motifs and encircled with pink rosettes that suggest garlands at Indian weddings.


 Super Star,Jaishri Abhichandani

Another art work “super star” where five female icons holding hands forming a star shape, the sides are decorated with pink for to denote their dishonest ways of achieving their acts of manipulations and cleverness, which is polished up and hundred by them to act as symbols of feminism.

An opening to a blockage in the society’s mind about women.

-Akanksha Khanna



Works of Nalini Malini



                                                                         Sita/Medea -2, 163 X 103 cm, 2004

The works of Nalini Malini depict women hero’s like Medias and Sita who transformed into mutants when they reached their catharsis of their emotional instability. What probed one to murder her children and while, other to abandon them. These are intense moments.



                                                                                       Medea III, 2006,72 × 48 inches

The works of Nalini Malini are inspired from the realisation of the fact that at this pint she might be sipping coffee, but there are worlds which she cannot see and stories which are unheard.History inspires her and her works deal with women from pregnancy to being a mother. The issues related to being sexually violated. The thoughts related to growing up, myths, mutants and where women are targeted.

There is an explosion of color and character.She is dynamic and versatile,while she points out that a lot what we read transforms in our work. Fascinated by history as it informs the present, as well as the present that informs the future. History is an ongoing process.


Broken Alice –II

She painted a menstruating Alice and also showed the brutality and blast of violence, which occurred in a few decades, such events are an eye opener. They effect the life of people. For her masculinity and femininity are abstract terms, both are present in a human being and it depends on the situation which side operates. She uses a versatile medium Mylar, on which can be painted 3-4 layers of pigment which can be photocopied as well as looped it as an archival potent.

Thus she gives a new meaning and dimension to her thoughts in her works broken Alice –II, from where the intestines of Alice sprouts out, a worn down version of Alice, the colors are explosive and she tried to break the image of Alice to being distorted and distressed. She works on the suffering women have dealt with and are feeling and facing. Thus ,gives a new experience.

-Akanksha Khanna

Amrita Shergill-The Woman who Inspired many

Amrita Shergill

A women who inspired a lot many female artists to have a faith in their own thought was Amrita Shergil. She paved the way of difference. She died at very young age but left us with a treat of work to eye upon and pounder about. She believed in the fact that an artwork no matter how wonderfully copied would always be inferior to original. The process of art is imagination and if we merely copy then we just limit our thought process. Her works talk about the life and event in a women’s book.


Bride’s toilet,1937

The ‘Bride’s toilet’ , a work that talks about a wedding ritual, where the women is getting ready for her marriage. The colors used are vibrant and gay, the forms are static grave, they have a stillness about them.



Hill women.1938

‘Hill women’ an artwork where the faces of the women are grave, she focused the poor people in India. She was attracted to the elements of sadness melancholy in their thoughts that reflects on their faces. A typical style was created with triangular static faces, brooding deep eyes and seems as though withdrawn mentally.




In the work ‘Brahmacharis’ where she tells the tale of said life of boys who are forced to follow an austere life.

While she was aboard she use to paint women nude, lost in weary forests, wandering into unknown places. While in India her idealization changes where she concentrated on a deeper level of thinking. She drove a supervising sense of vitality and newness.

-Akanksha Khanna

Aristotle Theory on Art


Aristotle considered imitation as the primary method of learning since childhood. He attributed the origin of art to the human affinity for imitation. He concluded that it is natural for humans to take delight in the works of imitation.The manner in which the object is presented is the final way to evaluate art. Aristotle’s theory on art examines art as a production of science. The quality of the object produced determines the merit of the art. The message of the artist may be absent or unclear, but if the object itself is a nearly perfect imitation, it could be considered a wonderful piece of art.

According to Aristotle, tragedy is an imitation/ representation using medium, object and manner, where pity and tremor are the proper strong emotions natural of a tragedy- plot, characters, diction, reasoning, spectacle and song; plot is the most important.He claims that one who focuses on the world are not realistic, but idealistic because the world is an illusion. The poet gives an access to reality. History only gives access to the surface of the world. This means history and historians deal with what happened in the particular times. While a direct access to the universal truths. A poet is a composer of a plot.

Aristotle ignores all conceptions of an absolute beauty and at the same time seeks to distinguish the beautiful from the good. He seeks in the meta physics to distinguish the god from the beautiful, the good is always in action. He beautiful however may exist in motionless things as well. He also says that good under certain conditions can be called beautiful.

He handles the mimesis theory in is own words. According to him beauty is enjoyed with eyes so it cannot be related to goodness to truth or to utility. Beauty can be movable or stable and goodness arises from action which is always moving.

He could trace the beginning or the origin of art when there was no civilisation; civilizations arrived with art. The earliest mode of civilizations start from Greece and Rome. According to him the objective world an idea and matter are together. He further says a person should be guided by intellect in his creativity or otherwise it is useless. He destroys the soul in order to give it immortality. The immortal soul is pure thought; the form of art is an imitation of reality.

-Akanksha Khanna

Plato and the “Theory of Imitation”






Plato was a greek philosopher. He had a love and hate relationship with art. He gave the expression “Theory of Imitation”. He describes the art of painting as an imitation of appearance.The imitation has to have such similitude that many mistake the copy for the real thing. Nature is like the real precious stone and art is an imitation. Imitative art does not merely mean copying of exterior and interior object of art in nature.

 Beauty according to Plato

He considered universal god to be absolute beauty. All beautiful things of life are god. Absolute beauty cannot be perceived in one ordinary experience. One has to go through spiritual path to attain vision of transcendent beauty, physical absolute and spiritual beauty is truth and beauty is goodness. Truth beauty and goodness are eternal trios.

About the nature, he says – in every beautiful object two things are present

The sensible phenomenon, the idea which it embodies, which underlies the form. One is individual and concrete and the other is general and abstract. The former is visible and transcend and the latter is invisible and transcend and latter is invisible and permanent. Beauty is always at the centre of the universe.

Beauty has two aspects

Phenomenal (physical)

Idea (mental)


Physical beauty is in harmony, balanced utility, purity in lives and colours. Beauty must lead to eternal beauty at work. But that play is activity for its own sake or move properly it in purposeless activity, striving towards no goal. He connects children’s games with love of festivals and ceremony, which he regards as another set of human play into which higher aesthetics feelings enter.

Plato also accept two forms of the world.

Immovable and Movable, which includes physical world and the other world in the mental world.

Knowledge is also of 3 types:

Ideal knowledge– A person can experience the world through ideas or the conscious world.

Sensory– This type of knowledge is gained by the sensory world, it cannot help to reach the truth or reality, it can be used as a medium for the knowledge.

Ideas-The knowledge that is gained through ideas from the ideas and experience of others

The sensory knowledge or the knowledge gained through the sense organs is just an illusion. The ultimate aim of human life is to get the supreme conscious element. Painting just imitates, the apparent truth which does not help in anyway. The art of a carpenter, blacksmith is better to treasure, they produce things useful for life. The painter acts like a mirror and reflects what is in there, it does not fulfil any useful purpose.

Plato say further that art is a trick of imitation of putting down the mind from the luminous rational intuition to the shadow region of sense and resemblance. If an artist makes his own painting out of his own inspiration, then it isn’t imitation.

-Akanksha Khanna

Luncheon On Grass – Edouard Manet



Luncheon On Grass


Edouard Manet, Luncheon on Grass,1863


The painting of Edouard Manet influenced the impressionists and his treatment of the modern subject matter inspired many. He observed the connection between form and subject, content  and matter had undergone a constitutional change. Form had the equal status with the subject matter. The power of the form had surpassed to such an extent that it was an end in itself. An aesthetic revolution was in the making, one that would change the way art was judged. The concept of beauty was thus challenged, in regard to the subject matter.

Manet was controversial for both his subject matter and his the way he executed his painting,the painterly aspect. He was thus marred by the conservative critics, for they declared his subject matter lacked morals and a defined plot. The critics brashly commented on his painterly style, which they said ‘lacked power’ and was ‘impotent’.

Manet did not seek the controversy .He wanted to “Be Famous and Earn Money” according to what degas stated. He wanted to be accepted by French academy. His work the Spanish guitar player was accepted by the salon and he was awarded an honourable mention by the jury.

His work the “Luncheon on the grass” (dejeuner sur i`herbe) drew negative criticism. This work was based upon an earlier work during renaissance, but he tried to change it using modernsubject matter. He was basically trying to aim and comment upon the truth of the society, that was hid ,under the mask of sophistication and hypocrisy .The painting was regarded as aninsult rather than homage to tradition. The Renaissance master Titian had painted with asimilar approach, where he showed two nude nymphs in a pastoral setting along with twoclothed men playing musical instrument .But, the two female figures were symbolic of
mythological figures and the painting ‘Fete Champetre’ was a poetic allegory. But, what Manet had created was threatening .It give a clear glimpse what the modern life was offering.

Nudity in public space was the bitter everyday reality of the poor. Social change and acute poverty, made the poor class beautiful women as an object of pleasure at the hands of the bourgeois. Not only the world of prostitution but also the Cabre shows where nudity was exposed on the stage. His paintings provoked a reaction from the French bourgeois, who were the target of his criticism. The display of nudity in the world of art was not a new thing, but his paintings were not displayed. His paintings betray the idea of realism, it more of critically judging the action of the bourgeois. In 19th century the realist painter depicted the sour lives of the poor; they wanted to show what they believed the truth of reality was. Reality meant the social reality.

The time in which ‘Luncheon on grass’ was exhibited when nude was acceptable only in high stylised forms and was of divine subject matter. Due to rapid development and expansion in France then, which gave rise to the emerging middle class .They basically wanted to capture the changes that happening in France due to rapid industrialisation. The city was rebuilt which gave a chance to the artist to explore and to capture beauty.

The painting was composed in a way that two fully clad men in modern middle class dress while the two women, one in the front who catches the most attention is fully nude. She is recognised as a contemporary figure, sitting stark naked with the two men and suggests a picnic scene. The woman was staring at the viewer, which suggests her bold attitude that was
certainly unknown of women, at that time. It was like the truth was there in front of everyone’s eyes. The critics pronounced that the ‘Luncheon on Grass‘ was immodest, vulgar, indecent and immoral. The modern artists were embracing the radical changes in the society and were showcasing it in their works.

Representation in the process of truth seeking is never a representation of reality, but rather a representation of ideological beliefs. It was none other than a political representation, which aimed at spreading the ideological beliefs of the socialists. Political in this case meant the, strategy for communicating thoughts, views, expression and attitudes, works the cause
“impact”. This painting hit the people in the face and forced them to meet the reality. As reality, lies deep under the thick crust of sophistication.

-Akanksha Khanna






Else forget about artists of all sorts and revolutions of all kinds.

Art comes from the pure state of consciousness,

that inspires and grows into beauty,

which again is not absolute.

Like Most Art ; Satire, lies in the Eye of the Beholder

Satire, Like Most Art, Is In the Eye of the Beholder- Kathy Gill



                                                                                               William Hogarth

Satire is a very powerful means to comment upon the socio – economic conditions present in
 the Economy of one’s country . People have subverted their grudges against the society
 through the means of humour to thus bring on an enduring change for the benefit of a
 Country .Thus to comment on the fault, corruption, crime, morality in the socio-political
 scenario prevailing then. As under the cover of humour the sting of the satire gets buried
 but at the same time hits right into the face of the satirised. Satire has always been a
 product of suppression a vent through which a common man can speak of the vices and
virtues and not in a very humorous context.

perriwig                                       William Hogarth 

 Generally drawn out in performing art, written words and graphic (illustrations).A visual has
 a more powerful impact as compared to any other form of art ,as it speaks a million words
 through just one form. Parody in art has been a way to point on the vices of another work of
 art to ridicule it. Art practitioners have found irony a method to bring about a change or
 prevent a change from happening.
                                       William Hogarth 
 In a more contemporary aspect artists have a made statements about this in their works of 
How shallow people have become, the immensity of globalisation, cosmetic products, 
the caste system ,child labour, film stars, inequality ,bureaucrats ,corruption, dowry ,
business executives and migration.

-Akanksha Khanna