a history of western art

from the renaissance to the present

academic art and manet


people, terms, and concepts: the Academy, Academic art, the Salon, juste milieu ('happy medium'), the Academic nude

Academic art: Know the character of Academic art after David as a 'juste milieu' or happy medium (a tame, inoffensive, watered-down combination of most popular and least controversial aspects of Classicism, Romanticism, and Realism), and know that the increasing conservatism of the Academy and the annual Salon exhibitions widened the gap between the Academicians and the independent artists or 'modernists' -- a gap which led to the mounting of 'independent exhibitions' such as Courbet's Pavilion du Realisme in 1855, the Salon des Refusés in 1863, and a series of Impressionist exhibitions starting in 1874.  What were the characteristics of the Academic nude? How are they visible in the Cabanel below?  

Manet vs. the Academic nude:  Be able to discuss Manet's Olympia and Déjeuner as parodies of the Academic nude and the male viewers of such nudes (it is a complex parody and will be hard to write about, so don't just think 'yeah, I remember that' -- think about it again: how is Manet's Olympia similar to a typical Academic nude? how is it different? Think especially about the differences between the Olympia and Titian's Venus (below), which served as its model, and how those differences thwart the easy delectation of the nude).

Titian, Venus of Urbino, Venetian Renaissance, 1538

(you don't have to memorize this work; just remember what Manet changed and why ...)

Manet, Olympia, c. 1865

Manet, Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), c. 1865

Cabanel, The Birth of Venus, French Academic, c. 1865