Gentlemen's Club - Olympia

Gentlemen's Club
Courtesans and Seductresses Depicted in Art
Curated by Gabbi Fenaroli
Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863 
“So sweet and delicious do I become,
when I am in bed with a man
who, I sense, loves and enjoys me,
that the pleasure I bring excels all delight,
so the knot of love, however tight
it seemed before, is tied tighter still.”
- Veronica Franco

Gazing into the eyes of Manet’s Olympia, it becomes difficult to look away. The private moment Manet has created for the viewer does not go unnoticed. What shocked the masses at the 1865 Paris Salon was not her bare breasts and exposed body. They took offense to her provocative gaze, and the blatant fact that she was a courtesan. Some items pointing to her profession include the orchid in her hair, the black ribbon that contrasts her pale flesh, and the playful slipper falling of her foot. What sets Olympia apart from other paintings featuring a bare model, is that she is attainable. She exists in modern culture.

Paintings record history and depict events occurring in society, and prostitution was not a piece of history Parisians wanted recorded. In contrast with the painting that inspired Olympia, Sleeping Venus by Giorgione, Olympia appears more boyish than Venus.

Olympia undermines the female bargaining power of sex, since her job trades pleasure for money. Olympia threatens women’s power, especially in 19th-century Paris, because of what she offers to men - no strings attached, no guilt involved.

  • 8:00 AM

Gentlemen's Club - Grande Odalisque

Gentlemen’s Club
Courtesans and Seductresses Depicted in Art
Curated by Gabbi Fenaroli

Jean Auguste Ingres, Grande Odalisque, 1814

"Women are like tricks by sleight of hand,
Which, to admire, we should not understand"
- William Congreve

Revealing just enough to excite the viewer, but not enough to give it away. The Odalisque playfully glances back and acknowledges the viewers presence She remains unmoved by their entry though. The viewer attends to her schedule. Jean Auguste Ingres painted Grande Odalisque in 1814 for Napoleon’s sister Caroline Murat. Opposed to classic European influences, Ingres enjoyed the exotic. He places the odalisque in a sumptuous interior full of Middle Eastern influences. The peacock fan, the hookah and the turban all point to Ingres' fascination with orientalism. Many other nudes of the time incorporated mythology; however Ingres mythology and magic reside in a far away land.

The painting received criticisms over the anatomy of its subject. The woman’s back contains more vertebrae than in reality. Some suggest this was done purposely by Ingres to highlight the fact the odalisque has one use only. By adding more vertebrae, the pelvic area is highlighted. Her social role defines everything about her life. Her existence revolves around pleasing and pleasuring her master.

What separates Grande Odalisque, from different paintings of seduction, remains that nothing is shown. She turns away from the viewer into a secretive pose. Unlike Olympia who acknowledges her place in the space, Odalisque shies away from the gaze of the viewer. She appears sensuous, yet reserved, beckoning the viewer to engage her.

  • 8:00 AM

Gentlemen’s Club - The Naked Maja

Gentlemen’s Club
Courtesans and Seductresses Depicted in Art
Curated by Gabbi Fenaroli

Francisco Goya, The Naked Maja, 1797
“A mistress should be like a little country retreat near the town,
not to dwell in constantly, but only for a night and away”
-William Wycherley

Not only do courtesans house secrets, but their identities also remain in question. The word maja describes someone of lower class society in France who are set apart by their cheeky behavior. Francisco Goya spares no detail to the imagination in his 1797 painting The Naked Maja. The painting along with its clothed twin belonged to Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy, Duke of Aludia.

Speculation arose that this curvaceous model was Maria Cayentana de Silva, 13th duchess of Alba. While others argue that Godoy’s mistress, Josefa de Tudo, was the model. Josefa, commonly known as Pepita, was Godoy’s lover by the age of eleven. Although Godoy went onto marry another woman, the nature of Peptia and his relationship remained the same. At the age of 16, she gave birth to his son, Manuel. Again in 1807, Godoy fathered another child with Pepita. Shortly after Goya painted The Naked Maja, the Spanish Inquisition questioned Goya about who commissioned the painting. Goya kept his lips sealed and never revealed who he had painted for.

The woman appears to have pearly skin that sets her apart from the dark background and lace bedding. She has an air of youth and innocence about her. The viewer feels like they have ruined a surprise. The woman lays waiting for her lover, fully embracing her status as a sexual object. She does not attempt to hide her naked body, on the contrary she ushers the viewer to come closer.

  • 8:00 AM

Gentlemen's Club - Sleeping Venus

Gentlemen’s Club
Courtesans and Seductresses Depicted in Art
Curated by Gabbi Fenaroli

Giorgione, Sleeping Venus, 1510
“Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
And like a bold-fac'd suitor 'gins to woo him.”
- William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

The oldest profession in the world empowers and disadvantages women. In society they are pariahs, the object of feminine jealousy and disgust. Courtesans and seductresses leave men and woman at a loss for words, as they use their bodies as means to manipulate men in the bedroom and viewers in art. They capture the eyes of anyone that walks by. The beauty of each painting lies in its simplicity, the subtleness that comes with being a courtesan. The secrets they each hold on their clientele.

Men are drawn to women they cannot posses. Venus remains unobtainable because of her ranks as a goddess. The painting Sleeping Venus by Giorgione underlines the fact Venus, although a fantasy to many men, will never be available to humans. The painting's rich colors revel us in heavenly light. Venus sleeps elegantly while stretched out on a bed on luxurious fabrics. Her body is effortlessly poised while she lies stark naked. Venus reclines alone, as though to say no one is deserving of her company. The only civilization remains in the background forever separated from Venus and her glory.

Her body twists and turns with her voluptuous curves. She glows with signs of fertility. Venus represents the mother of the Roman people, someone held in great acclaim. Although she does take male lovers, she only sleeps with them for a period and returns later to give them a child. Unlike Olympia, there are rules to sleeping with Venus. Sleeping with her results in procreation and responsibility. Venus draws men in with her maternal body and sultry actions. She does not need to stare at the viewer to capture their attention. Her body language and confidence stops viewers in their tracks. Venus offers sex and pleasure, yet her offers come at the cost of commitment.

  • 8:00 AM

Umbrellas - Umbrella and Bowler

Umbrellas
Umbrella and Bowler
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima


Considered a forerunner of Pop art, Fernand Leger created a personal form of Cubism from Picasso and Braque, by simplifying the treatment of modern subject matter. Leger developed a style in which precise and neat parts all fit into an appointed place. 

In Umbrella and Bowler, Leger portrays a home. The umbrella, the hat, the picture frames are all examples of objects found at door ways and entrances. Leger after fighting in the war and spending a year in recovery after a mustard gas attack, depicts his return. Everything in its rightful place, except split.

The umbrella sits nicely tucked away - a shield to weather, sun, and the past.

  • 8:00 AM

Umbrellas - Hegel's Holiday

Umbrellas
Hegel's Holiday
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima

Rene Magritte, Hegel's Holiday, 1958
Rene Magritte painted Hegel’s Holiday in 1958. His thought process began with drawings of a glass of water. He wanted to paint it in a way that it would be unique and strong. He wanted people to use the word genius. Beginning with a linear line on the glass, the umbrella eventually developed after several attempts at drawing the glass of water. From a letter Magritte sent to Suzi Gablik regarding this painting, "This line, after the 100th or 150th drawing, widened out and finally took the form 
of an umbrella." Experimenting with the umbrella, originally placed in the water, made its way under the glass. Thus an object with the role of repelling water is juxtaposed by an object who’s purpose calls for containing the water. So now the object becomes a singular unit that both admits and not admits water - it simultaneously contains and repels. 

  • 8:00 AM

Umbrellas - The Singing Butler

Umbrellas 
The Singing Butler
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima

Jack Vettriano, The Singing Butler, 1992
A storm, brewing on the horizon, casts stark weather upon an enthusiastic yet oblivious couple. Careless, this high class duo dance along the beach before the tides wade in, within the security of their servants. The butler and maid compositionally shield the pair through their positioning, as well as with the umbrellas in their hands. Struggling to hold them up, the attendants dance along with the couple. They attempt to overcome the gale, as depicted by the arc of the umbrellas as well as the maid’s apron and her attempt to keep her hat on. Vettriano depicts the couple in a vulnerable state. The umbrellas provide a false sense of security; given that if it began to rain or the weather surprisingly turned on them, they would have shelter to hide under.

Painted by Scottish, self-taught artist Jack Hoggan in 1992, The Singing Butler failed to be accepted into the Royal Academy show. Hoggan changed his name to Jack Vettriano, then sold the painting for £744,500 in 2004, and now The Singing Butler is the most sold reproduction in Europe.

  • 8:00 AM

Umbrellas - Man With Umbrella

Umbrellas
Man with Umbrella
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima
Claude Monet, Man With Umbrella, 1868     
Look at this man here. He has an umbrella and a mustache to go along with it. This fairly obscure piece of work, over shadowed by Monet's other umbrella piece, Women with Parasol, portrays a man strolling down the road, book under his arm.The man looks straight ahead. He has all the time in the world, but none to spare to turn back.

We can not see what lies ahead or what has already passed. The umbrella he carries shields him from the road behind him. It acts as his tool to move onward, not granting him the chance to sneak a peek into the past. We see the present. A man. His dog. His books. Present at that very point on the path.

His appearance initially appears as lost, but this route only has one direction to move from. Where we start, and where we end up. He’s curious. Content. Breathing in his surroundings, the fresh air of nature. He soaks in the moment. With his youth in the past, the man simply keeps moving. Both him and the dog travel the same road, ending up at the same destination, but for the time being, enjoy each others company.

  • 8:00 AM

Umbrellas - Umbrellas

Umbrellas
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Umbrellas, 1880-1886

In the 19th century, Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted Umbrellas in two phases.The scene displays people caught in the in-between of departure and arrival, hiding under their umbrellas to avoid collisions.  Largely consisting of blues and greys, the painting contains Renoir's impressionistic style of loose brush strokes. The second phase of the composition took place in 1885 when Renoir went through a midlife crisis of sort. Beginning to evaluate himself and his style, Renoir looked back to classical art, specifically Ingres.

Returning to the painting, he adjusted the main woman on the left. He removed her look of hated and altered the dress and painted with muted colors - creating a more simple, working-class style than she had before. Her face, along with the child and women to her right, display Renoir’s ability to paint within the classical, detailed style.

Through the umbrellas, the hoop, and the basket, Renoir creates circular movements throughout the composition. The umbrellas positioned in ways far from impressionism, form a linear pattern. Having visited with Cezanne in 1882, the tree in the back ground could very well contain traces of his influence.
The painting thus has a conflicting merging of styles. The on-going impressionists and the classical art that preceded them, forms a busy and, at first appearance, a complex piece of art.

  • 8:00 AM

Umbrellas - Paris Street, Rainy Day

Umbrellas
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima
Gustave Caillebott, Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877
Painted in 1877, Gustave Caillebotte’s painting Paris Street, Rainy Day, depicts a new Paris, renovated by Baron Haussmann under Napoleon. The cobble road, the street lamps, and the building all fresh and clean with crisp lines, represents the feel of Paris. The city did not have the same feel as the old for the citizens. Improved sewage and avenues fixed the waste management problems as well as the complex road system the city once had. The city lacked the imperfections the buildings once owned, their uniqueness. Paris, like a new pair a shoes, alien at touch, had to be broken into, put to use, worn before it could earn the sense of home that it once provided.

This new city provided modern stores and residences. By cleaning up the waste, Paris became more attractive. Accompanied with this new modernism, were the citizens, as upper class was growing, as represented by the attire worn by the couple and the surrounding townsman. The top hats, suits, and umbrellas were demonstrations of their social standing. The dark, clean, and flat surfaces of the umbrellas connect the city and its population, both fresh and foundations for the years to come.

  • 8:00 AM

Umbrellas - Confession of Love

Umbrellas
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima

Jean-Honore Fragonard, Confession of Love, 1771
They appear throughout history in royalty and high society. Umbrellas, also known as parasols, shield people from rain, sleet, and sun. Although umbrellas can be quite the intrusion. As for our two love birds in Jean-Honore Fragonard's Confession of Love, part of a romantic series of paintings, do not seem to need this sunshade. The parasol sits idly to the right of the canvas, providing no shelter of any kind to the lovers. Unusually placed right? Think again. By analyzing the strange gap within the trees, the umbrella turns to a phallic symbol. The wide space between the trees... well, no need to say more.

This parasol represents the level of love this couple seems to be experiencing. Fragonard paints of a aristocratic youth and how sexually driven they are. Youth drives the two lovers. They are experiencing each other for the first time and are unable to contain their emotions. Their lives full of pleasures, not having to deal with the cruel struggle of life, which the majority of the French population were experiencing during the 18th century. Umbrellas, while incredibly handy if caught in the rain, can also help bring to life the sexual urges of young lovers.

  • 8:00 AM

Art as the Erotic - Marcella

Art as the Erotic
How We Observe Sex in Art
Curated by Chase Coble  
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Marcella, 1909-1910
"I hope that we can create a fruitful new school and convince many new friends of the value of our efforts."  Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

The above describes the joint-efforts of Ernst Kirchner and three other German artists who created the Art movement known as Die Brücke (The Bridge). The movement's goal was to coerce artists to live according to the "savage" lifestyle - free from all urban and otherwise modern influence. 


Freedom being the chief principle of the Die Brücke, the artists also wished to embrace sexual freedom. Determining that the people of Malaysia and Polynesia were to be considered "primitive," the artist believed them also to be openly promiscuous - largely a misinterpretation. The reductionist interpretation these artists assumed gave rise to the number of Asian women depicted in Die Brücke paintings.


Kirchner's Marcella would unequivocally fall under the aforementioned category. His subject, presumably Marcella, sits both cross-armed and legged atop a van Gogh reminiscent seat-cover. Observe the "discordant hues." Kirchner gives the pre-pubescent girl many markers for innocence: the school ribbon, her flattened chest, and large benevolent eyes, which opposes the nature of her profession - prostitution. This feeling of innocence breaks down further with the extremely suggestive nature of the painting. Under Kirchner's pretense of "studying the nude in all its simplicity," we have little basis to believe that this subject-painter relationship was strictly fantasy.

  • 8:00 AM

Art as the Erotic - The Ecstasy of St. Teresa


Art as the Erotic
How We Observe Sex in Art
Curated by Chase Coble 
Bernini, The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, 1647-52
Arguably one of Bernini’s most controversial sculptures, The Ecstasy of St. Teresa depicts the nun’s spiritual vision. St. Teresa recounts her religious vision as distinctly physical and quite sexual.

Beside me, on the left, appeared an angel in bodily form.... He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest rank of angels, who seem to be all on fire.... In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he pulled it out I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease, nor is one's soul content with anything but God. This is not a physical but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it—even a considerable share.

I wonder what her father would have thought? Bernini plays upon her words and her story, and depicts an interesting congress. The artist produces a work that forces the viewer to witness the Saint’s sexuality and spirituality. But which of the two are more apparent? Just like in the Saint’s recounting of her vision, one finds difficulty in discerning which of the two themes has a sharper tone. I’ll leave that question to the individual. 


Above the limp Saint an angel readies his spear to penetrate. Teresa’s mouth is agape, moaning. Her arms fall to the ground while her legs are slightly opened. She is totally vulnerable. Her ecstasy is made all the more evident by the sculptor’s inclusion of rays of light beaming down from the heavens. These rays ask the Saint to savor her ecstasy and blessing – and she does.

  • 8:00 AM

Art as the Erotic - Naked Portrait with Reflection


Art as the Erotic
How We Observe Sex in Art
Curated by Chase Coble 
Lucian Freud, Naked Portrait with Reflection, 1980

Lucian Freud, grandson to the famed neurologist Sigmund Freud, often examined the relationship between model and painter. Again, as in Dejeuner sur l’herbe we must pay close attention to the distinction between nude and naked. Freud describes his models as naked, implying his personal observations of the model, furthermore his method as witnessing the human form as flesh. His 1980 Naked Portrait with Reflection examines this relationship under sexual pretenses.

Our model sinks in a deteriorating couch, and her body language mirrors that tiredness. The viewer is given an extremely analytical perspective of her body. We witness the rawness of her skin, appearing thin and easily bruised. She seems lithe with her muscles looking relaxed, and we can see the areas of her body that hold excess fat. The nature of her positioning would indicate either sexual arousal or satisfaction, but which is it?
Freud’s inclusion of the reflection of his own feet in the upper right-hand corner of the painting lends an interesting commentary. We can assume one of two possibilities about this inclusion – the artist’s feet either emit a predatory element or a finished sexual encounter. First we should examine the likelihood of a finished reconciliation between the artist and model. 


Our model’s relaxed nature would lend itself to satisfaction, while the artist’s seemingly quick departure from the interaction would point towards his dissatisfied emotion. Maybe he suffers from a spell of “La petite mort.” Yet, the predatory nature of his feet, looking ready to move, would imply the artist’s arousal and want. Our model’s relaxation can thus be seen as acceptance and openness to the advance.          

  • 8:00 AM

Art as the Erotic - The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors

Art as the Erotic
How We Observe Sex in Art
Curated by Chase Coble 

Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915-1923
Following Marcel Duchamp’s self-designated three month “exile” in Munich, which he would later call “the scene of [his] complete liberation,” he envisioned his seminal work, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). Assuming that much of his preceding works specifically, The Passage from Virgin to Bride and Nude Descending Staircase, concerned the “passage” of a woman through both space and sexual status, the Large Glass mechanized and detached it.

Duchamp made sex analogous to mechanical process.

Large Glass asked the viewer to understand “passage” as a liquid, or as Duchamp called it “love gasoline,” from the lower section to the upper, where the Bride was working as the “motor.” The lower section includes a number of suitors working as “sex cylinders” struggling to move their fuel to their target. The generator or “magneto” that was the Bride sparked the suitors’ fuel. Duchamp asks us to contemplate not the allure and hidden nature of sex, but the actual mechanics constituting the act. The medium of the work, glass, implies fluidity and liquidness.

What truly made Large Glass so revolutionary was the absence of discernable a subject. Whereas Manet subverted tradition by giving us an actual subject, not an ideal, Duchamp deconstructed the actual need for one. We witness the human form as a mechanical instrument that facilitates reproduction.

  • 8:00 AM

Art as the Erotic - Le Déjeuner Sur l'Herbe

Art as the Erotic
How We Observe Sex in Art
Curated by Chase Coble
Edouard Manet, Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, 1863
Edouard Manet’s Dejeuner sur l'herbe was immediately met with crticism by the Salon, and would in fact become the focal point of the heavily criticized Salon des Refuses in 1863. But why was this painting met with such tribulation and given the moniker “taboo”? It was sexually confrontational.

Manet ascribed the painting’s composition to a now lost tapestry by the master Raphael – two men gathered next to a naked Venus. Yet, we aren’t observing a Venus, which was Manet’s exquisite subversion. We find our subversion in the nakedness of the model at the left foreground, mind the distinction between naked and nude. She is a woman, one that you could find walking the streets in Paris, and she is looking directly at us. It is her confrontational gaze that offers us a matter-of-fact description about her sexual desire. And, it begs the question, not what, but who is for lunch?

Manet places our model’s clothes also at the left foreground, and accompanies them with the classical allusions to sexuality - ripe fruit, broken bread, and copious amounts wine – a lunch party indeed. Manet taunts the Salon’s long held traditions by deconstructing all formality, placing sex and desire in open view. His brushwork makes us question what intangible line actually gives us the ability to think sexually, and why there should even be one.

Our naked model is the only subject looking at the viewer, and through this Manet has rejected any illusions towards her sexual readiness. This painting is sex, and we as the viewer are forced to appreciate that.

  • 8:00 AM

Art as the Erotic - Reverie

Art as the Erotic
How We Observe Sex in Art
Curated by Chase Coble

Jean-Honore Fragonard, Reverie, 1771
By 1771 Jean-Honoré Fragonard had cemented his reputation for being the representative artist concerning the Rococo style, which by this time was starting to be considered passé. Nevertheless, in 1771 Madame du Barry, rumored to be Louis XV’s concubine, commissioned Fragonard to create his famed Progress of Love. In the series the artist typically depicts scenes of lovers frantically trying unite. Yet what of his Reverie, the only part of the series with one subject, what does this segment illuminate on the progress of love?

Clearly, Fragonard subscribed to the ideal that “one must love themselves.” But before we examine the overtly sexual details of this painting, let us gently peruse the more vague hints Fragonard gives us.

Our subject’s hair gently cascades and flows down her relaxed shoulders imparting a feeling of tranquility and openness. Her left arm indicates her relaxation in the moment, furthermore the relinquishment of her guard. She gazes upwardly, mouth agape with a clear sense of ecstatic pleasure. The positioning of her left leg furthers this entire feeling of readiness and acceptance. We, as the viewer, have been given an incredibly warm invitation.

We should get less subtle now. Notice the staging for our subject. She is sitting at the base of a long, thick, obelisk. And she seems to be in Reverie. 

  • 8:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman Scorned: Madame Recamier

Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson

Madame Recamier, David, 1800.
Under a facade of white wraps and virginal beauty comes the story of Madame Recamier - the headstrong dame caught up in the downfall of her royalist family. At a young age, Recamier's father forced her to marry a man of his age in the interest of saving the family money after the French Revolution. But this hardly resolved the issue. When her beau lost the money with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, the family name was the only remnant of glory. But this hardly put Recamier in a position of glory. After avoiding demands to serve as a lady in waiting for the new elite, Madame Recamier and her now-elderly husband were expelled from France by Napoleon himself. After her husband's continuous refusal to allow her to marry again for money, Recamier returned to France and hid away in a convent until her death from cholera.

Though her family's royalist ties and dwindling bank accounts quickly made Madame Recamier a pariah in France, it was her virginal appearance that ultimately excluded her from prominent socialite circles. Rumors flourished about Recamier's suspicious marriage to a much older man, including that she was allergic to sexual encounters or that she was infertile. Thus, when David chose to paint Madame Recamier in 1800 (despite the family's commission of another artist), her angelic attire and awkwardly positioned body displayed this quality. Though many women of the time used portraits to confirm their status, many viewed Recamier's as a disgrace to biology and her family, for she was now clearly portrayed as a completely unsexualized being. The position outcome? The style of seat upon which Recamier lays in David's painting was quickly renamed as "the Recamier."

  • 7:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman Scorned: Psyche

Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson
Berthe Morisot, Psyche, 1876


Each day we constant live in fear. Not the common sense of fear, but rather an underlying desire to be appreciated and included in the goings on of our surroundings. Our subconscious thrives on encounters with the people surround us, and the phobia of exclusion constantly dictates what actions we perform next. Berthe Morisot recognized this desire among women - according to European society, a woman must be thin, well-dressed, and perfectly innocent, a trifecta than drove women insane as they tried to conform to the expected perfection.

Thus, Morisot's masterpiece illustrates the hopelessness of this conformity. We see a young girl cinching the waist of her perfectly tailored dress, standing awkwardly in her heeled shoes as she stares longingly into the mirror. The image of perfection seems haunting, for though the girl appears affluent and well-coifed, the expression of her eyes shows that she feels subpar, unable to be the emblem of beauty and grace. The patterns of the surrounding room perpetuate this entrapment - the young girl cannot escape the demanding trends of her time. The mirror presents Morisot's greatest critique of her surroundings. The young girl appears faceless, undifferentiated from the world around her. She has conformed to the blasé culture that surrounds her.

  • 7:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman Scorned: Madame de Pompadour

Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson


 Francois Boucher, Madame de Pompadour, 1750.
Madame de Pompadour had all a rich, French woman could desire - an education, a fabulous wardrobe, close friendships with Voltaire and other prominent philosophes, and legendary poise. So it was no surprise when Louis XV honored her with the spot as his favorite mistress. Yet with this position came unconquerable amounts of hatred and scorn for poor Pompadour. Whether from jealousy or pure disgust, wealthy, impoverished, and royal Frenchmen shunned Louis' mistress even more than the indulgent princess that took her place.

Thus, when Louis XV commissioned Boucher, one of France's most esteemed portrait artists of the Rococo period, to illustrate Pompadour's grandiose life, the sound of dropping jaws rang across France. Now, Pompadour had permeated nearly all creative stimulation within the nation. With the painters and philosophers bowing at her feet, Madame de Pompadour became the emblem of French culture across Europe. Though the French people were embarrassed by this representation, Madame de Pompadour's portrait ushered in a new breed of female - informed, pampered, and respected by men.

  • 9:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman Scorned : Self Portrait with a Thorn Necklace

Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson

 Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with a Thorn Necklace,1940
Self Portrait with a Thorn Necklace epitomizes all we have come to know about Frida Kahlo - bold, bright colors, close ties to nature, a stolid expression, and of course the signature unibrow. Like many of her paintings, Self Portrait with a Thorn Necklace portrays the many hardships she experienced throughout her life - an abusive marriage to artist Diego Rivera, numerous bouts with polio, a traumatic car accident that led to multiple miscarriages, and a constant questioning of her sexuality - through the use of subtle natural symbols.

Despite the common notion of nature as freeing, Frida Kahlo illustrates herself as trapped and punished by these forces. The leaves surrounding her head seem uniform, showing the futility in trying to find newness. The animals behind her at first appear like guardians, but at a closer glance, they seem to be leeching off of Kahlo, adding an air of hopelessness to the painting. The thorn necklace is a direct allusion to the execution of Christ, implying that the sins of her country are unforgivable. Finally, the dead hummingbird hanged around her neck shows the ultimate demise of happiness. Despite the painting's bright colors and initial liveliness, Self Portrait with a Thorn Necklace clearly exhibits Kahlo's depression.

  • 7:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman Scorned: Madame X


John Singer Sargent, Madame X,  1884 
Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson

Amelie Gautreau was the epitome of Parisian society of the nineteenth century - designer gowns, a wealthy spouse, regular exotic vacations, and ties to the artistic community. Yet every person worth talking about at the time had a secret life other than her appearance, chock-full of affairs unknown to the public eye. Amelie was no exception to this, and for years she climbed the social ladder of Paris, one bed at a time. Her porcelain skin and unique features made Amelie the epitome of beauty, grace, and affluence that each woman coveted. Yet with the slip of a single strap, Amelie Gautreau became the shunned figure known as Madame X.

Upon its unveiling at the Paris Salon of 1884, Madame X exemplified the utmost disrespect for the secrecy of the upper class. The fallen strap of Amelie Gautreau's classy black dress exposed this secret life and left Parisian society a shambles. What differentiated this portrait from a full-frontal nude was that Amelie appeared as a hoax, always covering her promiscuity with the facade of wealth and class. Paris' upper class didn't hate the painting itself, but rather what it implied. Though the fallen strap was eventually replaced to its rightful position on Amelie's shoulder, her recovery from her social downfall was never successful.

  • 9:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman Scorned: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1667

There's something fishy that happens to a piece of artwork when it surpasses superstardom. Let's use Ferris Bueller's Day Off as an example. Despite its clever pranks and existential advice, there's always this strange feeling of boredom when someone suggests to watch it. Not because it isn't good, but because it's overused. It's a common phenomenon with things like Coldplay, McDonald's hamburgers, and 30 Rock. The "cult following" of once-good things turns off any desire to enjoy them. The same thing happens with art. For example, the fact that Van Gogh's Starry Night pops up on every art-related greeting card or notebook cover makes any painting connoisseur moderately nauseous. Not because the painting lacks innovation and skill, but because somehow its mass production ruins it. Similarly, Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring has been deemed banal by its Hollywood fame.

Though Girl with a Pearl Earring gained its fame from a fictional love story between the artist and its subject, that doesn't mean we, as viewers, should discount the painting's merit. With the boldness of color and complex emotion, Vermeer's masterpiece deserves a place in the Dutch Golden Age's hall of fame. Girl with the Pearl Earring exemplifies the cunning portraiture of later movements too, clearly influencing the realism of the early nineteenth century. All in all, the worthiness of this painting supersedes the hype of its fictional backstory and exemplifies the pinnacle of artistic inspiration.

  • 7:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman Scorned - Marie Antoinette and her Children

Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson

Vigee Le Brun, Marie Antoinette and her Children,  1787.
Marie Antoinette started her career as France's leading lady with a bad reputation. As a meek Austrian princess trying to save her homeland's grace by marrying the heir to the French throne, Marie's actions were questioned by every soul in Europe. Why did Louis XVI want this girl when he could have any maiden across the globe? The answer: money.

The French government was already poor, and for a small donation from Austria, marrying Marie Antoinette was the least Louis could do. So, when Marie pranced off to bed with her various gigolos, just as every queen did at the time, the public refused to turn a blind eye. Her expensive taste only amplified the skepticism. Marie Antoinette was more scorned than Eve, for her actions on the throne were more despicable than eating a forbidden apple.

Thus, in a fit of shame, Queen Marie hired the esteemed painter, Vigee Le Brun, to fix her tarnished reputation. Instead of a scantily clad depiction of Marie in her sleeping quarters, as she was most commonly viewed in France, Le Brun illustrated a maternal homebody, cradling her treasured children as though she had no cares in the world aside from building her family. Her somewhat plain red frock portrays a practicality unseen by the French public, and her feathered hat asserts the power that Queen Marie Antoinette had over the French crown. Most importantly, Marie lacked the "bling" for which she was most notorious. Le Brun portrayed Marie Antoinette as an ordinary woman, wise and understanding of France's needs.

Despite the portrait's beauty, its irony infuriated the French public. Its lies spurred even more vengeance against the frivolous French monarchy, for the people were appalled at the monarchy's attempt to become more relatable through a gigantic, expensive portrait of the country's most shameful figurehead. No matter how nice or motherly Marie Antoinette could be, her reputation preceded her. The rule of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette would forever be a joke, filled with gluttony and disregard for the French people.

  • 7:00 AM

Member Dismemberment - Apollo and Daphne


Member Dismemberment
A Look at Limbs 
Curated by Kate Sims

Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, 1622-25
"Yet what he sung in his immortal strain,
All but the nymph that should redress his wrong,
Though unsuccessful, was not sung in vain.
Attend his passion and approve his song.
Like Phoebus thus, acquiring unsought praise,
He caught at love and filled his arms with bays."
- Waller, The Story of Phoebus and Daphne

Apollo, god of light and unmarried men, was found irresistible by most for his charm and bravery. After Eros shot him with an arrow of love, Apollo fell for a nymph, Daphne, who uncharacteristically rejected him. Bernini, the master of marble, depicts the moment where Apollo reaches to grab Daphne and she turns into a Laurel tree.

Apollo’s arms illustrate his impatience and desire to reach Daphne with his right arm stretched back and fingers widespread. His left hand reaches out and caresses Daphne’s fragile frame. It is from that touch that Daphne roots her feet in the ground as the trunk wraps around her knees and legs. Her arms reach upward and widespread fingers transform into leaves. The limbs create movement within the sculpture. It begins with Apollo’s foot and creates a diagonal line up through Daphne’s arms. Bernini succeeded in capturing the delicate moment in time as Daphne transforms into a tree, running away from Apollo’s love.

  • 8:00 AM

Member Dismemberment - Floor Scrapers

Member Dismemberment
A Look at Limbs 
Curated by Kate Sims

Gustave Caillebotte, Floor Scrapers, 1875
“...It is only when a person has visited the slums of this great city that it dawns upon him that the inhabitants of modern London have had to sacrifice so much that is best in human nature in order to create those wonders of civilization... Every great town has one or more slum areas into which the working classes are packed. Sometimes,  poverty is to be found hidden away in alleys close to the stately homes of the wealthy. Generally, the workers are segregated in separate districts where they struggle through life as best they can out of sight of the more fortunate classes of society.” EngelsThe Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844.

Caillebotte’s depiction of lower class laborers explores a new genre of workers. Peasants and country workers had often been shown, but in a harmonious state with nature. There is little to glorify within the Industrial Revolution where death rates skyrocketed and only a small percentage reaped the benefits of lower classes. Caillebotte’s Floor Scrapers takes a straightforward and academic approach of the work. A high-angle perspective, has the viewer tower over the workers, transforming the viewer into the supervisor of the operation. This uncomfortable angle does not allow sympathy toward the workers, but distances the viewer from them.

The slanted angle of perspective and geometric structure of the room draw attention to the workers’ arms, which stand out as curved nonconforming shapes. The lengthening of arms along the floorboards intensifies the labor. Understandably, their faces are shamefully downturned focusing on the task at hand. The light shining in from the window, and only connection to the outside world, glistens on the floorboards and backs of workers. They have digressed into an animalistic state, which further dehumanizes them with no positive end in sight. These may not be the exact working conditions that Engels was referring to, but they seem pretty darn close.

  • 8:00 AM

Member Dismemberment - Third of May


Member Dismemberment
A Look at Limbs 
Curated by Kate Sims


Goya, Third of May, 1814
It is not often that a Christ-like figure appears in front of a bale of hay with a half-dozen bayonets shoved down his throat. As a commission for the provisional government of Spain, Goya’s Third of May explores the tragedy of Spanish slaughter by Napoleon’s armies coupled with commemoration for their strong resistance. The Christ figure, a nameless man holding his arms and stigmatised hands open as if he were nailed to the cross, willingly faces his murderers. As the only subject facing outward, this man shows a mournful compassion toward his killers while standing up and taking the blame for his companions. These efforts prove fruitless as his inevitable death looms as corpses stack up around him. His un-heroic positioning, an unheard of technique, overturns conventional “beauty of hero” stereotypes, and strengthens the overall impact of the piece.

The executioners, by contrast, have lost all human qualities as their arms transform into gun barrels. Their extension of arms, close shooting proximity, and anonymity represent the corruption and metamorphosis from human to beast. Their careless slaughter and lack of proper disposal undercut the humanity of the victims. Goya strove to and captured the horrific nature of war with a lone christ figure, standing up to take the blame for his community. The arm in Goya’s Third of May serve two roles, to depict a man as a Christ figure and transform men into machines of war.


  • 10:00 AM

Member Dismemberment - Oath of the Horatii


Member Dismemberment
A Look at Limbs 
Curated by Kate Sims

David, Oath of the Horatii, 1784
“[The arts] should help to spread the progress of the human spirit, and to propagate and transmit to posterity the striking examples of the efforts of a tremendous people who, guided by reason and philosophy, are bringing back to earth the reign of liberty, equality, and law. The arts must therefore contribute forcefully to the education of the public... The arts are the imitation of nature in her most beautiful and perfect form... Those marks of heroism and civic virtue offered the eyes of the people [will] electrify the soul, and plant the seeds of glory and devotion into the fatherland.” Goldwater, Artists on Art

David’s Oath of the Horatii illustrates a scene from Roman Legend where two competing cities go to war with each other. Three brothers from the Alba-Longa family plan to fight three brothers from the Horatti family. Each of the brothers is willing to give up his life as the last male standing wins the war for his city. The painting can be divided into three sections. The males do not show emotion with their faces, but rather with their arms. The brothers, who eagerly ask for their father’s blessing, jut their arms forward, mimicking the swords and cascading upward, revealing complete confidence in the situation. Their father, raises the swords with arms spread toward the heavens. He is asking God to look over his sons as they go to war, as well as offering his sons as a sacrifice to the city.

On the other hand, the sisters and mother are holding their heads in their hands or dropping their arms to their sides. Greif has overtaken their bodies and literally immobilized them. The women are the only ones allowed to feel emotion because they do not have heroic responsibilities. The stillness of these characters against a plain dull setting elevate the importance of the situation. The limbs in Oath of the Horatii display the mental and physical differences between men as the tragic heroes and women as the weaker sex.

  • 10:00 AM

Member Dismemberment - The Creation of Adam


Member Dismemberment
A Look at Limbs 
Curated by Kate Sims


Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam, 1511
"So God created man in His Own Image, in The Image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day." Genesis 1:27-31

Step inside the Sistine Chapel and try to look down, left, right, anywhere but up. It is impossible. You don’t notice the hundreds of other tourists, packed in like sardines. Their incessant murmurs become white noise along with the docents gentle “shhhhing.” You become enthralled by Michelangelo’s massive ceiling works. Their size, color, and raw passion capture both your attention and emotion. Nine scenes from the Book of Genesis dominate the ceiling, but one particularly breathtaking scene, The Creation of Adam, captures the attention of onlookers as well as its own spot in the Art History Hall of Fame.

In this collection, titled Member Dismemberment, I will explore the importance of limbs, specifically arms, and their contributions to the art world. Limbs display a specific emotion that viewers unknowingly relate to. I will begin, as seems fitting, with the beginning, or creation of humans. Viewing The Creation of Adam begins at the center of the painting, where God reaches out and Adam meets him halfway. This mirroring of arms represents the image of man created in God’s likeness. The hands are purposely not touching as God imparts the spark of life into Adam. Now, in regards to his arms, God’s right arm and hand of power is actively extended. While Adam, rather nonchalantly, slouches back, not seeking after God, and rests. His arm only extends to his knee where it rests. Adam’s drooping arm and limp wrist displays his reliance on God. The strength of one arm and weakness in another shows the relationship between God and man, and foreshadows the expulsion from the garden.

  • 9:00 PM

Not Your Average Female Portrait - The Photographer and His Daughter Jim and Chloe Mchugh


Not Your Average Female Portrait
Ways in which you wouldn't normally view a woman
Curated by Lily Johnston
David Hockney, The Photographer and His Daughter Jim and Chloe Mchugh, 2005
If you had put this painting in front of me without me ever having seen it, I would probably say "there is a creeper in the room." An older man gazes at a teenage girl who wears a flimsy dress. But he doesn't just gaze, I would even argue that he gawks. Hand on chin, camera ready for action, and reclining in a favorite chair, the man admires youth and its beauty.

So why would David Hockney paint such an enticing photo of a man and his daughter? Right away, with giving away the major detail of father and daughter, it changes his expression to that of a creeper to an admiring father regarding his daughter and who she has grown up to be: a beautiful young woman.

For my last blog post, I wanted to go all the way back to the beginning and say that things are not always what they appear to be. This is the opposite of my argument, but nothing is ever one-sided, no matter how much I have argued for the sexual and uncomfortable side of women in paintings. While I still do believe both of their body language provides more than just a father/daughter relationship, that can just be their personalities and how they ultimately translate onto canvas.

The brush strokes glide quickly across the canvas in an almost last-minute-like feel. They surround the bodies, and it is almost as if that jar of paintbrushes relaxing on the table were the ones to do it, until they floated back.

  • 7:00 AM

Not Your Average Female Portrait - The Purveyoress

Not Your Average Female Portrait
Ways in which you wouldn't normally view a woman
Curated by Lily Johnston
Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, The Purveryoress, 1739
Hello Yente. Getting all of the good gossip? While women usually tend to be thought of as chatter boxes and never mind their own business, there aren't many painted cases portraying them as such. In eighteenth-centrury Paris, the women on the sixth floor (maids) weren't acknowledged for much more than a body to clean and cook. Put into the hot basement with fresh meat from the market, they were expected to keep their mouth shut and avert their eyes from any business not pertaining to themselves. Straying away from the sexual side of views on women in paintings, I will look at a more political side.

I can imagine this painting outraged the public. Seeing their maids as sneaky gossip mongers instead of nonhuman beings. While this painting represents normality, that doesn't mean one should paint it. Leave it to good ol' Chardin to paint the truth.

Mostly known for his still life paintings, Chardin occasionally paints a portrait about a question within society. He lived and painted during the time of enlightenment when science came into question and how people function in the world. Restless French citizens longed for rebellion and equality. Divided into a timeless class system, the maids would always be maids, and honestly not much has changed. The question of this painting is less how right or wrong it is, but instead painting the unpainted side of society. The rich could commission, but the working class and the poor would never have a record other than their baptism, marriage and death. And even then, that isn't much. I find it funny how when Chardin does indeed paint the unrepresented, he paints them in the truest of light, getting enjoyment where they could.

  • 7:00 AM