Ultimate Freedom

Ultimate Freedom(Sexual Freedom)

While at a museum I ran into an artwork replica made out of toast. I liked the artwork and decided to break it down. The artwork is most likely titled “Olympia(1863)” which is a replica of a painting created by a Frenchman named Edouard Manet. The artist’s name of the unusual replica is Tadahiko Ogawa.

The focal point of the painting is the nude woman laying upon the bed. The artist has managed to achieve this by the use of color, and shadowing. One of the things I noticed is that the woman ignores the flowers, and has a blasé look upon her face. The onlookers will be curious as to what caused it. The cat in the artwork looks a bit startled; therefore, there must be someone entering the room. Combining the African lady giving the flowers, and perhaps someone entering the door makes me imagine that the woman on the bed must have felt a little annoyed by her surroundings at that moment in time. You will notice that Manet, and Owaka did not add much shadowing to the woman’s body. The only body parts shadowed are the hands and the feet. Now why? My best guess is perhaps to make the viewer focus on the woman, and her sexuality (her story). The artwork is very similar to a painting named “Venus of Urbino” by Titan. “Many speculate that the woman in the painting was a prostitute (Dr.Harris, Dr.Zucker).” The primary reason they think that is because during Manet’s time period many prostitutes were called Olympia. Now when you keep that in mind and compare the artwork to “Venus of Urbino” by Titan you will see that Manet has placed a cat instead of a dog in his painting. We associate dogs with loyalty/submissiveness, and a “men’s best friend” and using our deductive ability we must conclude that the cat must symbolize promiscuity, and independence. This tells us that the woman will not simply fall at the whim of a man’s demand, and at the same time she will; therefore, there seems to be a bit of contradiction to this timepiece.

Yet she chooses who she makes love to and that is her ultimate freedom. The replica has cracks in it, and has rough texture to it; as a result, it made me think that this woman must have had a rough life, or she might have caused great havoc upon others being either good, or bad. This artwork makes you realize that women enjoy sex, yet our society attaches negative connotations to that. Even today we see a woman as a slut simply because she wants to explore her sexuality. Personally I have more respect for a woman who is open about her sexuality because she is being genuine with her intentions, and does not need society to tell her what defines her as a good or a bad person; as a result, I am more likely to see her again.

I like how the woman looks directly at the viewer. The artwork creates an intense and intimate space because many painting do not have the portraits staring right at you; in addition, it makes you present at that moment. The image reminds me of the movie Titanic when the main character painted the woman while she laid naked on a sofa.  It also reminds me of many Russian women I have met who have a similar type of an intense gaze. When the painting was first shown it had actually caused some controversy because of the eye contact produced by the woman in the original painting. I find it fascinating how the society had been so affected, and intimidated by a simple gaze. Perhaps the men who partook in sexual relations with the prostitutes during Manet’s era felt ashamed to be stared at by a painting, and it made them feel insecure because it reminded them of their private lives, and they felt exposed, and afraid to be found out by their significant other. Eye contact is vital to expression and many people cannot handle pressure produced by the eyes. Yet we need eye contact more today because we have become a society that looks down upon our phones, and screens more than we look into someone’s eyes and truly connect with them. Have a great day, and best of luck to you.

Citations:

Dr.Harris, Beth, and Dr.Steven Zucker. “Manet, Olympia.” Khan Academy. N.p., n.d. Web.

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