Acceptance- At Last?


Do  you know what made these three paintings unacceptable when they were first displayed?

They featured working people or ‘real people’ and at that time the working classes and the people who lived in that Universe  and their lives were not seen as legitimate subjects for art.  They didn’t ‘deserve’ as one critic said of the first painting shown below,  to be featured on such a grand scale and at something as important as a funeral.

In the second painting,  critics of the time asked why glorify men working on their hands and knees in the dust and grime to finish of the floor of someone ( in this case the artist ). Isn’t that what the lower classes were there for?

In the 3rd painting ” Olympia ” the critics found this work to be unacceptable because the naked woman wasn’t demure – she was posed naturally and she was described as ‘jaundiced’. She was not art. Everything about her was to ‘real’.

In a word, the lower classes were seen as ‘vulgar’ and whoa be to the artists who forgot that.

Over time our sensibilities have shifted and these works have found acceptance in the art world.

The question is, will these three paintings be able to maintain that acceptance?

In a  time where book burnings, censorship and people who only insist in seeing ‘beauty’ in the world still exists, I do wonder.

I wonder about that a lot.

Gustave Courbet – A Burial at Ornans

Gustave Caillebotte
Les raboteurs de parquet (English title: The Floor Scrapers)

Edouard Manet – Olympia





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