Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Olympia Prompt

        In class, we observed an old painting by Edouard Manet named Olympia.  In this painting, a nude woman is laying down on what appears as a bed or couch as her servant is delivering her a bouquet of flowers.  The idea of rich and superiority versus poor and inferiority seems to be present in this painting through the use of shading and colors, details, and use of facial expressions.  Using these ideas helps to support the argument that when in power one can forget and ignore the equality of all people and deem themselves as more important.
        In the painting, a nude woman is laying down, yet still has an upright posture.  She has a light pink flower in her hair as a cute accessory as well as a bracelet and ribbon necklace.  Her servant, who's face is not very visible and seems to blend into the background, is delivering the woman a bouquet of flowers.  On the bed with the nude woman is also a black cat that is alert and attentive.  In the background, there are dark green velvet drapes hanging in the room which contrast with the bright colors associated with the nude woman.  All of these details seem to point out the wealth of this woman.  Having a servant shows a sign of being wealthy and since this nude woman is being delivered flowers it's also a sign of admiration and prominence.  The velvet drapes also show a sense of prominence because it seems to go along with the time period and the ones who were wealthy during this time seem to favor velvet either in their homes or clothing.
         These details do help one notice the wealth of the nude woman.  The contrast of colors also helps to support this idea as well.  In the background, the colors are very dark which is a different scene from the colors associated to the nude woman such as the white sheets and the light yellow blanket.  This contrast is used to focus primarily on the nude woman and that she is the center of attention to show the viewer her superiority.  While focusing on the bright colors and the nude woman, one barely notices the servant because her dark skin seems to fade into the dark background.  This contrast separates the poor from the wealthy, where the bright colors represent wealth and superiority while the dark background represents the poor and inferiority.
         Facial expressions are also very symbolic in this painting.  The nude woman is looking out at the audience, but she is not really looking at you but above you. This shows that whoever she is looking at is irrelevant and she is far more important.  The facial expression on the servant seems to be quite nervous as if she is bit scared of the nude woman and may even be a bit intimidated by her.  Her nervousness shows a sense of weakness and inferiority from the servant.
          Observing certain details, facial expressions, and color contrast helps immensely when analyzing any piece of art or photography.  In this situation it did help guide one to make assumptions and opinions with the meaning behind this painting. Wealth versus poverty seems to be a main trend in this photo where the nude women seems to be of wealth with the aid of a servant.  With this servant, the nude woman pays no attention to her as she delivers the flowers to the nude woman's bedside.  Her facial expressions supports the idea that she is wealthy and cocky because she ignores her servant and her eyes are looking above her audience deeming them irrelevant to her superiority.  These points help to support my argument that wealth can make one forget and ignore the equality of all people and consider themselves more important.
Edouard Manet, Olympia (1863)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrea,
    You have provided a lot of detail to flesh out your thesis about, "when in power one can forget and ignore the equality of all people and deem themselves as more important." The way you separated out your analysis (colors, facial expressions, etc.) into different paragraphs really helped me as a reader follow your argument and to understand each point clearly. Nice job!