Monday, August 23, 2010

The Birth of Impressionism and the death of the idealized female form

The Birth of Venus, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

This weekend I went to the de Young Museum for the Birth of Impressionism exhibit. With a couple wings of the Musée d'Orsay closed for renovations, a bunch of their Impressionism and Post-Impressionism collections are going on tour, baby!

I learned that Impressionism developed in opposition to the French state-run Salon d'Exposition and their stringent academic requirements of their featured artwork. Edouard Manet brought back a Spanish technique of short, distinct brushtrokes. This technique lent itself wonderfully for depicting light reflecting off the surface of water or the dappled light filtering through leafy trees. However, the unfocused look of it all scandalized the Salon juries, who preferred things like the above Birth of Venus, with its classical subject matter and clean execution of the idealized female form.

Wait a minute. Idealized female form? Yeah, she's lost at least fifty pounds in the last hundred years. See?

From Photoshop Disasters, via Boing Boing.

That just ain't right.

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