The Avant-Garde

Death of Socrates

"Viewed by many as the founding figure of Western philosophy, Socrates (469-399 BC) is at once the most exemplary and the strangest of the Greek philosophers. His style of teaching-immortalized as the Socratic Method-involved not conveying knowledge but rather asking question after clarifying question until until his students arrived at their own understanding. He wrote nothing himself, so all that is known about him is filtered through the writings of a few contemporaries and followers, most of all, his student Plato. He was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and sentenced to death. Choosing not to flee, he spent his final days in the company of his friends before drinking the executioner’s cup of poisonous hemlock," - History Channel
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Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates, 1787.











Luncheon on the Grass

"A commonplace woman of the demimonde, as naked as can be, shamelessly lolls between two dandies dressed to the teeth. These latter look like schoolboys on a holiday, perpetrating an outrage to play the man…this is a young man's practical joke-a shameful, open sore." - Gardner's Art Through the Ages
"I myself shouldn't like to meet this young man...I should be obliged to tell him I don't understand anything about his paintings, and I don't want to be disagreeable with him." - Gustave Courbet
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Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass (Le Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe), 1863.











Pastoral Concert
Luncheon on the Grass
Titian and Giorgione, The Pastoral Concert, c. 1508.
Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass, 1863.











Luncheon on the Grass
Manet breaks with convention:
  • No chiaroscuro
  • No linear perspective
  • Not a classic landscape
  • Figures do not seem to relate to one another
  • Thick and full brush strokes that call attention to the act of painting
  • Vast planes of color
  • Portion of the painting left unfinished
Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass, 1863.











Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863.











Venus of Urbino
Titian, Venus of Urbino, c. 1538.
Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863.


Titian vs. Manet
Rounded and soft
Angular and flat
Looks lovingly at the viewer
Confronts the viewer with a cold and indifferent stare
Dog sleeps
Cat hisses











1863 Academy rejected nearly 3,000
works for the annual Salon

Italian Music Hall

Provoking great deal of public protest
Emperor Napolean III ordered an exhibition of the refused work that was eventually called the Salon des Refuses (Salon of the Rejected)
Artists used the exhibition as a declaration
of their independence from the Academy
Eva Gonzales, The Italian Music Hall Box, c. 1874.











Victorine Meurent
Salon des Refuses = Salon of the Rejected 1863
Avant-garde = artists or works that are novel or experimental
Relates to the military term for soldiers who explore the battlefield ahead of the advancing army
Suggests a small group of intellectuals that open pathways through new cultural or political terrain for society to follow
Edouard Manet, Victorine Meurent in the
Costume of an Espada, 1862.











Cabanel, Nymph and Satyr, 1860.
Adolphe William Bougureau, Charity, 1878.











James Abott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Old Battersea Bridge, c. 1872 - 1877.











James Abott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold (The Falling Rocket), 1875.











Claude Monet, Impression: Sunrise, 1872.