Manet; [biographical and critical study by Georges Bataille
By Georges Bataille
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Additional info for Manet; [biographical and critical study
There is not a great deal to be said for the vision implied in the principle he recommended to the painters of his time: to throw convention to the winds and represent contemporary figures in contemporary dress. This does not go far enough. Baudelaire was apparently fond of Manet’s early work, but from the time he left Paris (1864) until his death (in 1867, two years after Olympia was shown at the Salon) he wrote nothing about his friend’s work. Nothing but the letter from Brussels, which Manet received while miserably depressed over the Olympia scandal.
Though he reverted many times to themes of contem porary life, the painter of Olympia somehow always eluded the formal laws his friend laid down. Manet only deferred to Baudelaire’s theories in one respect: he valued imagination (though this was precisely what he lacked) above nature, and this pitted him squarely against the trend of his time. T H E SPA N ISH B A L L E T , 1 8 6 2 . ( 2 4 X 3 6 * ) T H E P H ILL IP S C O L L E C T IO N , W A SH IN G T O N . Manet never raised his voice or sought to lord it over others.
What is supreme and majestic in present-day life is not to be found in present-day forms, which are incapable of giving rise to palaces and temples; it resides in that “ secret royalty” which Malraux reads into Cezanne’s apples, which made its appearance in Olympia, and which is the greatness of The Execution of Maximilian. This royalty springs not from any given image, but from the passion of the painter who, within himself, fathoms the depths of supreme silence, in which his painting is trans figured and which in turn it expresses.