Dead Christ and His Angels

7:00 AM

Édouard Manet, Dead Christ and His Angels, 1864


It seems we have come full circle.

On Thursday September 25, 2014 I wrote my very first blog post on Manet's Dead Christ and His Angels. Lately, I've been feeling awfully sentimental and think it fitting to revisit this painting in my final year of High School Art History.

In my first blog post on this painting I spoke a lot about the history and technical aspects of it, but it was Manet's representation of Christ as "vulnerable, unheroic and overall...well, human" that rubbed me, and many of the critics at that time, the wrong way. Looking back on this painting, I no longer see why that's such a horrible thing--to be human. And, above all, to show that you are human. What Manet does, throughout his entire career, is allow the viewer to see things we often feel shouldn't be seen. Even his still-lifes have a realism that demands to be coveted. A spotlight on discarded apples and lemons draped in mystique. As I learn more and more about "the adult world" this year I have begun to feel as if I'm looking in on something I shouldn't. As if I'm being led through the back door to a soundstage for a show I thought I knew everything about--shown all the wires and inner workings, the camera crew and fake blood.  Like Manet's Dead Christ with Angels, glimpsing into the reality of adulthood seems all too wrong, and a little too real.

Two years ago I walked into Mr. Luce's class a complete Art History virgin. We were tasked with picking a painting off the looming south wall of the room, a daunting task indeed.  In my blog post, I remarked on being shocked that I didn't pick a Liechtenstein, a Magritte or painting of a naked lady. and instead I picked this painting, "stunned at my own self conscious." To this day I still haven't done a Liechtenstein or a Magritte, and the paintings I choose to write about still surprise me. In end, I've found it's not about choosing a painting you adore. It's about choosing a painting that will open a door.

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