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Critical Analysis of Art Module I
Manet in the Upheavals of Modernity
This course examines the paintings of Edouard Manet (1832-1883), arguably the most important artist of the 19th century. We will examine how Manet, with his ground-breaking paintings such as Picnic on the Grass and Olympia articulates an entirely new understanding of the epoch within which he is living, the one to which we now give the name Modernity. Simultaneously, through the form and structure of his paintings, Manet launches art on an entirely new path, one that we are still on today and to which we now give the name Modernism.
This course concentrates on the close visual analysis of the artworks. Through this process, we come to appreciate the many different layers of meaning that inhere within single images, and the manner in which those layers interact with each other to form surprisingly complex 'texts'. Through these richly-textured scenes, we see Manet investigating topics such as class, sex, gender, the nature of contemporaneity, and perhaps most importantly, the nature of art in its contemporary setting, all of which are still deeply relevant to us in our current moment of Modernity.